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"Mute! mute the Harp! and lost the'inagit. aH'' '/> 
Wliich roused to rapture each Milesian heart ! 
In cold and rust the lifeless strings deca}', 
And all their soul of sons; has died awav." 



One hundred and eiyhty Copies. 

No. A^-' 



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It was the writer's intention that the chapters relating to the Irish, 
Highland, and Welsh Harps should form the concluding portion of this 
work, but as the two first-mentioned instruments are of primary 
importance, it has been decided to issue the chapters relating to them 
separately, and those treating of the English Guitar, Harp-Guitar, 
Guitare-Harpe, Apollo-Lyre, Harp-Lute-Guitar, Harp-Lute, Harp-Lyre, 
British-Lute -Harp, Dital-Harp, Harp- Ventura, and Royal Portable Irish 
Harp as a second part, each part being complete in itself and separately 
indexed. The writer had hoped to include the Triple Welsh Harp, 
but the letters addressed to those who were supposed to be able to give 
information regarding the tuning of the instrument have remained 
unanswered ; and as he has not considered it desirable to reprint the 
vague and unsatisfactory statements that are already before the public, 
the instrument is unnoticed. It is to be hoped that some person who 
thoroughly understands the Triple Welsh Harp will put on record 
the method of tuning any one of these instruments,' that is, the tuning 
of the outer and centre rows for each major and minor key, and such 
information as to fingering as may enable the possessor of one of these 
instruments to tune and play upon it. To Edward Bunting we are 
indebted for such information as we have as to the tuning of the Irish 
Harp with thirty strings, but when that Harp is furnished with more than 
thirty strings we have no definite knowledge as to the tuning of the 
additional strings. For instance, we do not know for certain whether 
they all belong to the treble or should be divided between the treble 
and the bass, and, if so, in what proportion they should be divided ; or to 
make it still plainer, we do not know the exact position of the thirty 
strings, as to the tuning of which we have certain knowledge from 
Bunting, upon a Harp which has a greater number of strings. The harpers 

' The arrangement of the strings in the bass keynote string upon diflFerent instruments would 
upon specimens has been found to vary, so the presumably vary also. 


who Instructed Bunting, and even those of a ranch later period, could 
have given the required information. They must also have known the 
number of steel strings that should be upon the Harp, and whether 
there should be two thick steel strings or only one between the thin 
steel strings and the brass strings. Now unfortunately there is, at least 
so far as the writer is aware, no person alive who is able to state 
positively what we so much wish to know. When this is so, may we not 
hope that some person will do even more for the Triple Welsh Harp, 
while it is still in use, than Bunting did for the Irish instrument, which 
has, since he wrote, become obsolete ? ' 

The writer will be glad to hear of any Irish or Highland Harps of 
considerable antiquity that are not noticed in this volume. There may 
be, and it is to be hoped that there are, interesting specimens in country 
houses that are known and valued, while some that have been put 
aside, and are forgotten, may yet be brought to light. "^ 

The photogravure plates, both in this and the succeeding volume, are 
by the Swan Electric Engraving Company, London, and the Messrs. 
Annan of Glasgow, and the lithographs by the Messrs. Banks and Co., and 
Messrs. M'Lagan and Gumming, of Edinburgh. All the plates and blocks 
marked by the monogram ^ are the writer's own work, and are almost 
entirely from rubbings and tracings, principally gelatine, taken from the 
original ornamentation, or from photographs. These, although mere 
outline drawings, he has endeavoured to make as accurate as possible, 
and it is hoped they fairly represent the objects referred to in the 
text. All the illustrations in both volumes are copyright, except such 
reproductions of engravings as have been previously published and have 
not been reproduced by hand. 

It is, perhaps, the most pleasing duty of an author to acknowledge 
assistance he has received ; and in the production of this and the suc- 
ceeding volume assistance has been most generously and ungrudgingly 
given, not only by personal friends, but by many with whom he had no 

' Since this paragraph was written a Tutor for the writer trusts that they will not be removed, 

the Triple Welsh Harp, from the Ms. of the late at least before they have been cleaned of rust, 

Ellis Roberts, has been published by the Vincent and then properly gauged and measured, and the 

Music Co., 9 Beruers Street, London, W. number of each string, counting from the first 

- If any such are discovered, and there are treble striug, and the metal, noted, 
strings or remuants of strings attached to them, 


previous acquaintance. His thanks are specially due to Lady and Miss 
Hodson, Mrs. and Miss Otway-Ruthven , Miss Middleton, the Council of 
the Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, the Council of the Royal Irish 
Academy, the Council of the Belfast Natural Historj'^ and Philosophical 
Society, Lord Walter Fitzgerald, Sir Robert Adair Hodson, Bart., the 
MacDermot Roe, Lieutenant-Colonel Ryan-Lanegan, Lieutenant-Colonel 
Plunkett, C.B., Rev. Thomas K. Abbott, Senior Fellow, T.C.D., 
Rev. F. W. Galpin, Rev. Alen M. Maclean, Rev. Canon Hewson, 
Joseph Anderson, E.sq., LL.D., T. H. Longfield, Esq., George 
Coffey, Esq., J. Romilly Allen, Esq., A. B. Skinner, Esq., Richard 
Langrishe, Esq., G. A. J. Cole, Esq., Walter G. Strickland, Esq., 
E. W. Hennell, Esq., Archibald Constable, Esq., William Douglas, 
Esq., Thomas Ross, Esq., George Donaldson, Esq., T. H. Thomas, Esq., 
W. I. Browne, Esq., William Jackson, Esq., Messrs. Adam and 
Charles Black, the Messrs. Glen, Mr. A. M'Googan, Mr. G. A. Stuart, 
Mr. Alexander Ritchie, and all others whose names may unintention- 
ally be omitted, but who have assisted in the production of this and 
the succeeding volume. 

R. B. A. 

Jpril ]90-t. 



Preface, .......... vii 


Historical Notices. The Bards. Historical Notices (contimted). Representa- 
tions, Metal, Stone, etc. Description and Construction. Method of 
Playing. Scale and Tuning, etc Deca}' and Disappearance, . . 1-54 

Existing Specimens 

The Trinity College Harp. The Cast. Harp Mountings found at Ballinderry. 
The Fitzgerald or Dalway Harp, The Kildare Harp. The Castle Otway 
Harp. The O'Ffogerty Harp, Two Harps, the Property of the Royal 
Irish Academy. The Belfast Museum Harp. The Downhill Harp. The 
Bunworth Harp. The Hollybrook Harp. A Harp by John Egan. A 
Harp at South Kensington, The Charlemont Harp. The Belfast 
Society Harps. A Harp in the National Museum, Edinburgh, . . 65-109 

Missing Specimens 

A Harp noticed by Mr. Bellew, of Castle Bellew. The Magennis Harp. A Harp 
by John Kelly. The Hnrp of Arthur O'Neill. The Castle Caldwell 
Harp, 109-115 

Specimens known to have been Destroyed 
Cardan's Harp. The Bunworth Collection. The Limerick Harp, . . 115-119 


Feaghan Geleash, or "Try if it is in tune." Lamentation of Dierdre for the 

Sons of Usneach, Bunting, ....-• 121 

A Lesson for the Harp, R. B. A., . . . . - • • 122 

Coulin, R. B. A., 123 



Scott's Lamentation, R. B. A., . 

The Young Man's Dream. Tlie Cavalcade of the Boyne, R. B. A 

The Dawning of the Day. The CM Truagh, R. B. A., . 

Girls, have you seen George 1 The Summer is coming, R. B. A., 

The Yellow Blanket. Little Molly 0, R. B. A., 

The Black Rosebud. Molly, my Treasure, R. B. A., 

The Groves of Blarney. The Wren, R. B. A., . 

The Jolly Ploughman, R, B. A,, . 

New Langolee, R. B. A., . 

Molly Macalpin. Aileen Aroon, R. B. A., 

Kitty Nowlan. Nora, my Thousand Treasures, R. B. A. 

Burn's March, R B. A., . 

Cardan's Concerto, R. B. A., 



Frontispiece — wire-strung Irish Harp, manufactured by J. Egan, of Dublin, for 

the Belfast Irish Harp Society. 
Title-page^arranged and drawn by R. B A. 
A. Bard and Harper from Derrick's Image of Ireland, .... 

Representations of Harpers upon the Shrine of St. Moedoc and upon the Shrine 

of St. Patrick's Tooth, 
Harp upon a Monument at Jerpoint Abbey, 
Edward Bunting, .... 

Programme of Music played by four Harpers before H. M. George iv., at the 

Mansion-House, Dublin, August 1821, 
Ancient Harp, Trinity College, Dublin — 
Plate I. Perspective and front. 
Details, R. B. A., 
,, 11. Left side, 
,, III. Right side. 
Harp Mountings found at Ballinderry, 
The Fitzgerald or Dalway Harp — ■ 

Plate I. Right side. Portion of the Fore-pillar, and a probable Box 
supplied by R. B. A., 
II. Left side of Fore-pillar and of the Harmonic Curve, and th 
front of the Fore-pillar, .... 

The Kildare Harp — 

Plate I. Perspective, ...... 

,, 11. Left side, ....... 

,, III. Details, ....... 










The Castle Otway Harp — 

Plate I. Perspective, showing portion of the right side, 
,, II. Perspective, showing portion of the left side, 
The O'Ffogerty Harp, 
Dennis Hempson, . 
The Bunworth Harp, 
The HoUybrook Harp, 
Thurlough Carolan, 



Sub-title— The Irish Harp, R. B. A., . 

Irish Harp, Crown and Shamrocks, R. B. A., . 

Harper from Derrick's Image of Ireland. Irish Harp from Pretorius, 1619, 

The Castle Otway Harp, showing the construction of the Box, R. B. A., 

"Shoes of the Strings" upon Irish Harps, R. B. A., . 

Scale of the Irish Harp, from Pretorius, R. B. A., 

Scale of the Irish Harp, from Bunting, ..... 

Method of Tuning the Irish Harp, from Bunting, 

The Strings of the Harp, R. B. A., 

The Graces, Shakes, Double Notes, Chords, etc., from Bunting, . 

Double Notes, Chords, etc., for the right hand, from Bunting, 

Scale of Egan's wire-strung Harp, and supposed Tuning, R. B. A., 

The Trinity College Harp. Left and right sides of the Harmonic Curve, K. B. A 

Grotesque Animals represented upon the Fore-jiillar, R. B. A., 

Front and side of metal enrichment upon the Harmonic Curve, R. B. A , 

The Harp in its present state. The probable form of the Harp before it passed 

through the hands of the restorers, R. B. A., 
The Harp-mountings from Ballinderry. The left side and lower end, R. B. A., 
The Fitzgerald or Dalway Harp. The Queen. Section of moulding underneath 
the Harmonic Curve, R. B. A., ..... 

The Ornamentation upon the flange of the T-formation, both sides, R. B. A 
The Kildare Harp. Ornamentation upon the Fore-pillar, R. B. A., 

Sound-hole and incised Ornamentation upon the Sounding-board, R. B. A., 
The Castle Otway Harp — 

Ornamented Metal upon String-band. Side of Cap or enrichment upon 
the Harmonic Curve, R. B. A., 

Chevron and interlaced ornamentation upon the Harmonic Curve, R. B. A., 

The left side and the front of the Fore-pillar, R. B. A., . 

Ornamentation in relief, and Wolf-dog upon the front of the Fore-pillar, 
R. B. A., 


40, 41 

42, 43 

43, 44 






Sound-holes upon the Downhill and Castle Otway Harps, and incised Numerals 

upon the latter, R. B. A., 
The O'Ffogerty Harp. The right side and back, R. B. A 
The O'Neill Harp, Dublin Museum, R. B. A., 
Harp in the Dublin Museum, R. B. A., . . 

The Belfast Museum Harp, R. B. A., 
The Downhill Harp, R. B. A., . 

The Bunworth Harp. The right side and the front of the Fore-pillar, R. B. A 
The Hollybrook Harp — 

Diagram and sections, showing the construction of the Box, R. B. A., 

The right side, R. B. A., . 

Section of the Fore-pillar, R. B. A., 
Harp at South Kensington, R. B. A., 
Harp by John Kelly, R. B. A., 
Arthur O'Neill, from Bunting, 







Historical Notices, Bards, Story-tellers, Vocalists. Musical Instruments. 
Excerpt from the Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer of Scotland, 
relating to the Harp and Clarscha. Representations upon Stone, . 139-158 

Existing Specimens 
The Lamont Harp. The "Queen Mary" Harp, . 



Lude's Supper, E. B. A., . 

Highland Laddie, R. B. A,, . . . 

Leezie Linsay. The Yellow-haired Laddie, R. B. A., 

The Terror of Death, R. B. A., . 

The Fiddler's Content, R. B. A , . 

Rorie Dall's Sister's Lament, R. B. A., 

My Ain Kind Dearie. The Land o' the Leal, R. B. A., 

186, 187 


The Highland Harp as represented upon Stone, at Aldbar, Nigg, Dupplin, 
Monifieth, St. Oran's Chapel, lona; the Cathedral, loiia ; Keills, and 
Kilcoy, R. B. A., . . . . . . - .154 

The Lamont Harp — 

Plate I. Perspective, . . . . . • .158 

„ II. The Straps. The side and front of the metal enrichment, E. B. A., 160 
,, III. The upper portion of the box. The lower termination of the 
string-band. The treble end of the tuning-peg band — left 

side. Do.-right side, R. B. A. 162 

„ IV. Probable form of the Harp before the fraction of the Fore-pillar, 

R. B. A. 166 

The " Queen Mary " Harp — 

Plate I. Perspective, . . . . . • .168 

„ II. The Left side, . . . . . . .170 

III. The Right side, . . . . - .172 

„ IV. The Fore-pillar. The reptiles' heads, actual size, R. B. A., . 174 



The "Queen Mary" HsiTp— Continued — 

Plate V. Present form of the Harp and the probable form of the Harp 
■when it left the hands of the artificer, R. B. A., 

„ vr. The Box No. 1. The front. The right side and shoulder. 
The left side and shoulder, R. B. A., 

„ VII. The Box No. 2. The upper portion of the back. Remains of 
ornamentation upon the left and right sides of the back. 
The right side of the projecting block, with the missing 
portion restored. The left side of do. The lower front of 
do., showing the portion worn away. The lower termina- 
tion of the box, R. B. A., .... 

„ VIII. The Harmonic Curve. The front of the bass termination 
The moulding underneath. Section, showing the moulding, 
The left side. The right side, R. B. A., 

„ IX. The Fore-pillar. The ornamentation upon the T-formation 
Do. upon the left and right sides. Do. upon the back 
Do. upon the upper and lower portions of the front, R, B. A 








Sub-title— The Highland Harp, R. B. A., 

Thistle, R. B. A., . 

Diagram showing the probable form of the Box of the ancient Harp, R. B. A., 

The Lamont Harp — 

The "Shoes of the Strings," R. B. A., .... 

The Ornamentation upon the Tuning-pegs, R. B. A., 
The "Queen Mary" Harp— 

The " Shoes of the Strings," R. B. A., .... 

Ornamentation upon the Tuning-pegs, R. B. A., . 

Ornamentation upon the Fore-pillar, R. B. A., 







In a work such as this it may not be possible to do full justice to 
au instrument of such importance as the wire-strung Irish Harp ; but 
the writer has endeavoured to give, in the following notice, such 
information as the ordinary reader may require.^ 

That music was cultivated in Ireland at a very remote period, and 
that the inhabitants of the country had arrived at the highest degree of 
excellence both as composers and as performers upon the Harp, is 
undoubted ; but to enable the reader to judge of the estimation in which 
the Irish Harp, and also the harpers and other musicians, were held, 
not only by their own countrymen but by those of other nationalities, 
it has been considered advisable, before proceeding with the description, 
etc., of the Harp, to reprint — as far as possible in chronological order 
— some of the notices that are to be found in Irish MSS. of a very early 
period, and also such statements as are to be met with in works prepared 
during the twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth, fifteenth, sixteenth, and 
seventeenth centuries. This portion of the chapter has been so arranged 
that the reader not specially interested in the historical notices can pass 
directly to the description of the Harp. 


The Ollamhs or Doctors, heads of the professions of History, Poetry, 
Music, etc., as well as their wives, enjoyed valuable privileges.^ Although 
an accomplished poet may occasionally have been a proficient in history 

' The account of the instrument given by Eugene worldly troubles in the prosecution of their 

O'Curry, in the third volume of his Lectures, studies, etc. When an eminent Antiquary, 

and the notices of Irish MSS. relating to it, or of Physician, Poet, or Harp-player died, his eldest 

those in which it is referred to, are extremely son did not succeed him either in his estate or 

interesting. Much will also be found in The salary unless he were the most accomplished of 

Ancient Music of Ireland, by Edward Bunting, the family in that profession ; otherwise, the most 

which will repay perusal. learned member of the tribe to which he belouge<l 

2 The Historians, Physicians, Poets, and was appointed bis successor both in office and 

Harpers had estates settled upon them that emoluments. — Keating, pp. 137, 138. O'Curry 's 

they might not be disturbed by cares and Materials for History, pp. 3, 252. "The Ollamhs 


or music, the pi'ofessions of History, Poetry, and Music, as the following 
extracts from the ancient Mss. prove, were distinct. In the Annals of 
the Four Masters, of the twenty historians noticed, one was also a poet. 
Of the eighty-six poets mentioned, one was also an historian. And of 
the twelve musicians to be hereafter noticed, one was also skilled in 
Fenachus Law, while another, a man of unusual culture, was also skilled 
in history, poetry, and general literature.^ 

Professor O'Curry, whose vast knowledge of the most ancient poems, 
historical tales, etc., enabled him to throw much light upon the cultiva- 
tion of music in Ireland at remote periods, states that the earliest 
notice of a harp-player occurs c. 541 B.C. This person, Craftine, is 
mentioned in several legendary tales. One of these, which O'Curry has 
not noticed, may be briefly referred to. Craftine, whose instrument 
had been injured, is stated to have gone to a wood in search of a 
suitable tree for the^ purpose of constructing another Harp, and the 
tree he selected was a willow.^ This is of value as showing that the 
Harp, when it most probably was a small and primitive instrument, 
was constructed of willow wood. 

The writer is unable to place Professor O'Curry 's extracts from 
ancient poems and tales in chronological order, but a certain number 
are here reprinted for a purpose to be hereafter explained. 

In a very ancient poem in which is recorded the tragic death of Curoi 
MacDaire, who was King of West Munster, at the period of the 
Incarnation, we have an interesting notice of Ferceirtne, who was that 
monarch's faithful poet and harper.^ 

"Make amusement for us, O'Donnbo ! because thou art the best 
minstrel in Erinn, namely at Cuiseachs, at pipes (or tubes), and at 

of Music, or those raised to the highest order of During his time the princiiial liarj^er at Tara was 

Musicians of ancient Erinn, -were obliged by the Ahhean, the son of Becelmas. — O'Curry 's Lectures, 

rules of the order to be j)erfectly accom|dished \oh iii. p. 42. 

in the performance of three peculiar classes or ^ Keating's History of Ireland, p. IC7. In a 

pieces of music, namely the Suantraighe, which poem of a much later date (c. 1200), a willow 

no one conld hear without falling into a Harp is thus noticed : — 

delightful slumber; the Goltraigbe, which no ■■ strings as sweet as his conversation 

one could hear without bursting into tears and On a willow harp nn lingers have played ; 

lamentations; and the Geantraighe, which no Nor have the youth's wliiie fingers tonched 

,,, •. , , , ^- i- i 1 J J An instrument sweeter than his own mouth." 
one could hear without bursting out into loud and 

irrepressible laughter." — O'Curry, Ibid., p. 255. O'Curry's Lectures, voL iii. pp. 270, 271. 

^ Lug, perhaps a fictitious person, is stated to 
have been perfect in all the arts and sciences. ^ Ibid., vol. ii. p. 97. 


harps, and at poems, and at traditions, and at the royal stories of 
Erinn."— A.D. 718/ 

In a record or tradition belonging to a very remote period we have 
a notice of a learned poet called Cir, and of a celebrated cruitire, or 
harper, named Ona.^ 

From the account of the " Pot of Avarice " we learn that while the 
poem was being chanted, the best nine musicians in the company played 
music around the pot.^ 

At the triennial meeting at Tara a great banquet was always given. 
In the History and Antiquities of Tara, Dr. Petrie gives facsimiles from 
two Mss. showing the positions occupied at this feast by those who were 
entitled to be present. There were two rows of guests on either side 
of the hall, and on the first and oldest plan from the Book of 
Glendalough we find amongst the list of those who were placed along 
the external division on the left, Horsemen, Harpers, Brehons, Professors 
of Literature, Tanist-professors, OUamh-poets, Anroth-poets, Augurs, 
Druids, House-builders, and Carpenters. The Charioteers, Huntsmen, 
Cli,* Historian, and Eath-builder, occupied seats along the external 
division to the right, while along the internal division to the left were 
ranged Pipers, Smiths, Shield-makers, Chariot-makers, Jugglers, Trum- 
peters and Footmen, Distributers and Fishermen, Shoe-makers ; and to 
the right were seated Chess-players, Braziers, Physicians, Mariners, and 
King's fools. 

The second plan is somewhat difi'erent : along the external division 
to the left were seated Horsemen, Charioteers and Stewards, Harpers 
and Tyrapanists,* Brehons, Professors of Literature, Tanist-professor, 
Ollamh-poet,^ Anrudh,^ Augurs, Druids, House-builders, Carpenters, 
Rath-builders, Trumpeters, Engravers and Ring-makers, Shoe-makers 

' O'Curry's Lectures, vol. iii. p. 310. way of eomiiensation, if it was off him it (the 

2 Ibid., vol. ii. pp. 4, 5. nail) was cut." The term " Timpanach " is not 

3 Ibid., vol. ii. p. 56. in the translation, but is from the Irish. It would 
* A poet of the third order. api>ear there were either two kinds of "timpan " 
^ Professor O'Curry, after a searching inquiry, or that the tyrapanist, besides using the bow, 

came to the conclusion that a "timpan" was a occasionally pulled the strings with his finger. 

species of violin, and that from one kind the sound nails, which was the manner of playing upon 

was produced by a bow. The following curious the harp (perhaps at that) certainly at a later 

extract is from the Book of Aicill, printed in the period. 

Ancient Laws of Ireland, vol. iii. p. 353 : — "And ^ (Feli) Chief poet. 

a wing-nail shall be given to the ' Timpanach ' by ' The name of the second order of poets. 


and Turners. Along the external division to the right sat Charioteers, 
Hunters, Cli,^ Historian, Dos,^ Carpenters, Fochloe,' Cooks, Kath-builders. 
Along the internal division to the left, Pipers, Smiths, Shield-makers, 
Chariot-makers, Jugglers, Satirists vrere ranged, while along the 
internal division to the right sat the Chess-players, Drink-bearers, 
Braziers, Fools, Physicians, Mariners, and Buffoons.* 

It may be concluded that each person for whom a seat was provided 
was highly trained and skilled in his own particular art. The bards (as 
will presently be shown) had no regular education, so probably on that 
account were not admitted to the banquets. 

The court of the King of Cashel, in accordance with ancient custom 
and privilege, was supplied by certain ofl&cers from particular territories. 
Thus "his harpers were furnished by the Corcoiche in the County of 
Limerick," while bis poets and scholars came from the Muscraighe of 

It is recorded that when MacLigg, who succeeded MacLonain as 
chief poet of Erinn, went on a visit to King Brian Boroihme, he was 
accompanied by learned men and his pupils, and attended by Ilbrechtach 
the harper, who had been harper to his predecessor, MacLonain.® 

Eochad, or better known as Ollamh Fodhla on account of his learning, 
" for the encouragement of learning, made a law, that the dignity of 
an Antiquary, a Physician, a Poet, and a Harp-player should not be 
conferred but upon persons descended from the most illustrious families 
in the whole country." ^ 

In the reign of Cormac Ulfada, a.d. 213, it was established by law 
that every monarch of the kingdom should be attended by these ten 
officers. He was obliged to have always in his retinue a lord, a 
judge, an augur or druid, a physician, a poet, an antiquary, a musician, 
and three stewards of his household. The poet was to transmit to 
posterity the heroic and memorable actions of famous men, of whatever 
quality they were, to compose satires upon debauchery and vice, and 

1 A poet of the third order. are behind the Poets. The Flute-players, Horn- 
"- A poet of the fourth order. blowers, and Jugglers are placed in the south-east 

2 A poet of the lower rank. part." — Ancient Laws of Ireland, vol. iv. p. 339. 
■• Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy, ^ O'Curry's Lectures, vol. iii. p. 20S. 

vol. xviii. See also O'Curry's Lectures, vol. ii. ^ Ibid., vol. ii. p. 99. 

pp. 14, 15; vol. iii. pp. 367-509. "The Harpers ' Keating, p. 139. 


to lash the immorality of courtiers and inferior persons without partiality 
or affection. The musician was to divert the king with his instruments, 
to sing before him, when he was pleased to throw off public cares, and 
ease his mind from the business of the state." ^ 

One MS. quoted by O'Curiy gives a very minute but no doubt exag- 
gerated account of the court of Conaire Mor, when moving about the 
country. Ingcel, a British outlaw, obtained admittance to the court for 
the purpose of seeing whether it was possible to attack and plunder the 
palace of Daderg. On his return to the outlawed foster-brothers of 
Conaire Mor he related what he had seen, and described the appearance 
and dress of the different persons in attendance upon the king. Nine of 
these were pipe-players and three were poets. The harpers are thus 
described : — 

" I saw nine others in front," said Ingcel, " with nine bushy, curling 
heads of hair, nine light-blue floating cloaks upon them, and nine brooches 
of gold in them. Nine crystal rings upon their hands ; a thumb ring 
of gold upon the thumb of each of them ; ear clasps of gold upon the 
ears of each ; a torque of silver around the neck of each. Nine shields 
with golden emblazonments over them on the wall. Nine wands of 
white silver were in their hands. I know them," said Ferrogain, " they 
are the king's nine harpers, namely. Side and Dide, Dulothe and 
Deichrlnni, Caumul, and Cellgen, 01 and Olene, and Olchoi."" 

To the foregoing passages from the ancient Irish mss. may be added 
the following extract, translated by Hardiman from an old historical 
tale, entitled Kearnagh Ui Donnell. " The Keai-nagh took a loud-toned, 
sweet-stringed harp ; the train below heard him among the rocks, even 
they who cast the soothing strains which leave the passions captive ; 
which cause some to dissolve in tears, some to rise with joy, and others 
again to sink in sleep. But sweeter than all was the song of Kearnach. 
The fell woundings, diseases, and persecutions of the world seemed to 
cease, while its sweet stx'ain lasted. He took the hai-p, and it sent 
forth soft warbling sounds. Wounded men, and women in travail, and 
the wily serpent slept while he played. Again he tuned the harp and 

1 Keating, pp. 280, 281. These regiilntions - O'Curry's Lectures, vol. iii. pp. 14G, 147. 

■were observed from the death of Corniau to the Couaire Mor was killed 33 B.C. 
death of Brian Boroihme. — Ibid. 


roused the note of war, wondrous and terrible. He struck the thick 
chords of bold and fiery notes ; then the slow and deepening tones of 
tragic grief, full of melancholy and gloom, intermingled with melodious 
strains." ' 


The profession of jDoet was of the very highest rank in Ireland, and 
although the course of study was unusually severe, and extended over 
a considerable number of years, the qualified poets had such peculiar 
privileges, and were so richly endowed, that the profession had special 
attractions for a large number of the inhabitants, so much so that at 
one time the profession is believed to have numbered one thousand 
persons ; and as these poets did not work, they became a burden to the 
state, and their numbers eventually had to be reduced. There were 
seven grades or orders of the educated poets,^ but so much has been 
printed regarding the course pursued at a native Irish college, that it is 
unnecessary to do more than state that " the study of the seventh year 
was the Brosnach of the Sai (or professor) ; and the Bardesy of the 
Bards ; for these, says the writer of the tract, the poet is obliged to 
know, and so they are the study of the seventh year." ^ 

We have here one of the few early references to those persons who 
in Ireland were known as bards, and in the following paragraph they 
are again referred to. During the period Braes usurped the sovereignty, 
the chronicler says, " The knives of the people were not greased at his 
table, nor did their breath smell of ale at the banquet. Neither their 
poets, nor their bards, nor their satirists, nor their harpers, nor their 
pipers, nor their trumpeters, etc., were ever seen engaged in amusing 
them at his court." ^ 

Were it not for the Ancient Laws of Ireland we should be very much 
in the dark as to what a" bard really was ; but although the term does 
not appear in the index to these valuable volumes, from an examination 
of the contents of vol. iv. we find, p. 361, the following most interesting 
statement : " A hard, now, is one without lawful learning hut his oivn 

' Irish Minstrelsy, vol. ii. p. 38(1. ^ O'Curry's Lectnres, vol. ii. p. 172. 

- Ancient Laws of Ireland, vol. iv. p. 357. ' O'Curry's Materials, p. 24S. 



A. |ioix)to^enmtot^eitfenceDljoH>eiE(,tl)efenaucs(aceentrcli in, 
■Co fmite anfi fenocfeetfte cattelIDotone,fte hangmen Doe beginuc. 
!©ncplucfee^ off tfte€)iccj8 tote, toljic^ ftecuen noto Dtfi tteare: 
f> Z^'^^^ ^ •atfeinspanneSjtobopletDcflellj ,l)ts;l)iftep?cpatc. 
« f«5"^^"»«'*atten'>l'Pont^efite,fl)jreruin5bpt^efeaft: 
» 4inD:fftt>etfmeifeaftaieabtnB m,8otl?p?eaceamon8atftcbeft. 

mbo being fet, becanfe tbe cbeere, i${ieeinel> little tvottb: 
D 23otbBarcie,anl)!^arpet,isiptepatl)e,tofttc!)bptbetttunntngatt, 


intellect." It would appear from this that men capable of producino- 
poetry of considerable excellence, who were either uneducated or had 
not gone through the same severe course of study as the professional 
poets/ occasionally appeared, and that such persons were called bards. 
The poems produced by some of these may have been of sufficient 
importance to form part of the course at an Irish College. As a 
bard did not belong to the profession of poet, his death would pass 
unnoticed, so in Dr. O'Donovan's translation of the Annals of the Four 
Masters there is not one mentioned, whereas the demise of a great poet, 
a national loss, is usually recorded. These bards, as they were not 
provided for, are more likely to have wandered into the Pale, or that 
portion of the country inhabited by the English or Anglo-Irish, so we 
naturally find sixteenth century writers, such as Baron Finglas (c. 1530),- 
Holinshed (1577),' Spenser (c. 1580),* Derricke (1581), Stanyhurst 
(c. 1585),'^ and Camden (1586)," noticing them. 

As the country came more under the subjection of the English the 
poets probably declined, for after 1550 only three are mentioned in 
the Annals. The rimers, bards, etc., whom the Earl of Desmond was 
directed in 1563 to proceed against,* perhaps in a measure replaced the 
poets, or at least were better known within the Anglo-Irish district. The 
term bard may thus have come to be used to some extent amongst the 
Anglo-Irish in place of poet. Certainly we learn that when an important 

' The course was continueil for twelve years. — of people called barJs, which are to them instead 

O'Curry's. Lectures, vol. ii. p. 172. of poets." 

2 "Irish Mmestralls, Rymers, Shannagha * "Both Barde and Harper is prepared 
(Genealogists), ne Bards." Which by their cunning art 

3 This writer, when contrasting the ordinary Doe strike and cheare up all the gestes, 
spoken language with the true Irish, says : — " The With comfort at the heart." 

toong is sharpe and sententious, and offereth c. -phe Barde and Harper mellodie, 

great occasion to quick apophthegms and proper Unto them do beginne. 

allusions. Wherefore their common jesters and This Barde he doeth report 

rimers, whom they term Bards, are said to delight xhe noble conquestes done. 

passinglie these that conceive the grace and j^„^ eke in Rimes shewes forth at large, 

propertie of the toong. But the true Irish indeed Their glorie thereby wonne." 

differeth so much from that they comraonlie . t, , , r,- • i. » 

, ,, ^ ■ 1. , , , .,, " A Bard and a Kiuier 13 all one. 

speake, that scarse one in nve hundred can either 

read, write, or understand it. Therefore it is " "Their common jesters and rimers, whom 

preserved among certeine of their poets and they terme bards, are said to delight passingly." 

antiquaries." — Edn. 15S6, p. 12, also p. 44. —Walker, note, p. 107. 

"Their rithmours, their bards, their harperis ^ These have "Poets, whom they call Bards, 

that feed them with musike," etc.— Ibid., p. 45. and Harpers," etc. 

* "There is amongst the Irish a certain kind * Walker's Irish Bards, pp. 137, 138, 139. 


controversy was carried on in 1604 by two distinguished poets, the 
dispute came to be known as the " Contention of the Bards." ^ 

The writer's object in placing these notices before the reader is to 
show, firstly, that the professions of poet and musician were quite dis- 
tinct ; secondly, that the term bard does not occur frequently in Irish 
MSS. ; thirdly, that when the term bard is used by English and Anglo- 
Irish writers of the sixteenth century, it is solely with reference to 
poets, rimers, or reciters ; fourthly, that bard does not appear ever 
to have been used, and should not be used, to indicate a harper or 
musician unless the person so designated was also a minor poet or rimer,^ 
at least when the individual referred to is connected with Ireland ; and 
perhaps we may say the same of Scotland, for Martin, in his Description 
of the Islands of Scotland, states that the chieftains in the Isles each 
retained a " physician, orator, poet, bard, musicians, etc." ^ Apparently, 
then, a poet, bard, and musician were in Scotland, as in Ireland, distinct. 

The term bard seems to have had a fascination for writers. Walker,'' 
Joy,^ Bunting,^ Lady Morgan,'^ Wilde,* Conran,^ etc., were unaware of 
the meaning, and actually applied it to harpers. Again, in one of our 
leading encyclopsedias, a misleading paragraph under that heading will 
be found, and in an interesting and recently published novel, in which 
many scenes in Ireland are described, a " bard," one of the last of the 
harpers, is stated to have played the well-known melody " Coulin " upon 
his harp. Hardiman and O'Curry, both careful writers, use the term 
bard, the former freely, but always with reference to poets, the latter 
occasionally, probably to avoid repetition, and always with reference to 
poets, except in one case when he quotes his friend Dr. Petrie,'" with 

• O'Curry's Lectures on Ms. Materials, p. 141. remarked that both these individuals were 

^ On 27th January 1540 a general pardon was harpers, and that the first mentioned was also 

granted to Owen Keynan (Keenan) of Capper- a rimer and bard. It appears that the terms 

varget, in the county of Kiklare, harper, other- were not interchangealde. 

wise called Owen Keynan, servant of Gerald, late ^ Edn. 1716, p. 109. 

Earl of Kiklare, otherwise Owen Keynan, (the) i Bards, pp. 58, 137, 156. 

Kymour, otherwise Owen Keynan, the poet, 6 i^ Bunting, coll. 1809, p. 3. 

otherwise Owen Keynan, Keyeghe Berde (the g ■,,■■, ■■■ 

blind bard), and for Cornelius Keynan of Capper- , „, ^ . t ■ ■ tt 

^ . ,, ,, , V, ■■ t' ' The Lay of an Irish Harp, 

avarget, harper, otherwise called Cornelius Key- '' 

nan, son of Owen Keynan Keyeghe, otlierwise * ^v. I. Academy Catalogue. 

Cornelius, (the) berde (bard). Patent Roll 32. " Irish Minstrelsy, pp. 16-24. 

33 Henry viii., quoted by Hardiman. It may be '" Lectures, vol. iii. p. 298. 


whose contribution to his lectures he may not have considered it 
advisable to interfere. 

When prose writers were inaccurate, we need not be surprised that 
poets were mistaken. One, and by no means an unimportant one, wrote 
the following graceful lines : — - 

"E'en kings themselves have mixed the bards among, 
Swept the bold Harp, and claimed renown in Song." 

Supposing our information to be correct, here we have the ancient kings 
of Erin, the proudest of the proud,' unintentionally represented as 
degrading themselves by consorting with a number of uneducated 
rimers, and playing upon their harps, and singing songs for their enter- 
tainment. This is not written with any wish to ridicule the work, or 
with any disrespect for the memory, of an Irish scholar and author. The 
fine lines quoted, it must be remembered, had a very different but 
mistaken meaning when they were penned, but to us with our more 
exact knowledge they represent nothing except what has been stated. 

Turlough Carolan, who will be hereafter noticed, was accustomed to 
pay peiiodical visits to country-houses, and in return for the hospitality 
he received he occasionally wrote lines in praise of his entertainers. 
This is exactly what the sixteenth century bards are known to have 
done, but the bards were paid, whereas Cai-olan, as far as we know, was 
not. Carolan was much more than a minor poet. The verses he wrote 
he set to original and beautiful melodies, and sang them and accom- 
panied himself upon the harp. He was in fact a remarkable musical 
genius, and far more celebrated as a composer than as a poet. It is 
possible that this rare combination of poet, singer, composer, and harp- 
player may have led to the confused ideas regarding the meaning of the 
term bard, which term was applied to Carolan at a later period, and 
perhaps during his life. However, unless important contradictory 
evidence can be produced, it is to be hoped that writers who may in 
the future treat of the ancient and medifeval periods of Irish history 
will refrain from using the term bard when referring to poets or harpers. 

Knowing as we do the distinguished position held by the professors 

1 As already stated, every King of Ireland was entertain him with suitable discourse and ooii- 
liy law bound always to have with him a lord versation. — Keating, p. 2S0, 
who was to be a companiou for the king, and to 



of poetry in Ireland, we may conclude that an ollamh of poetry during 
the palmy days of Irish culture would have been as much insulted by 
being called a bard as the first living surgeon would be were the term 
bone-setter applied to him, and that an ollamh of music, or an ollamh 
of harp-playing, would have been equally indignant had the term bard 
been applied to either of them. 

Passing this somewhat long dissertation, we return to the historical 
notices of the Irish Harp, harpers, and other musicians. 


In the life of St. Mungo, or Kentigern, it is stated that a King 
of Ireland sent a joculator or jongleur to the court of Roderic, King 
of Wales. This musician sang and played upon the Harp and Tambour 
before the king and his nobles during the Christmas holidays, and so 
pleased was Roderic that he ordered rich presents to be presented to 
the musician.^ Kentigern lived a.d. 580. 

Fuller, in his account of the Crusade conducted by Godfrey of 
Boulogne at the close of the eleventh century, says : " Yea, we may 
well think that all the concert of Christendom in this war would 
have made no music if the Irish Harp had been wanting." " 

Johannes Brompton, Abbot of Jereval in Yorkshire, who wrote 
during the reign of Henry ii. (1154-1189), states that the Irish had 
two kinds of Harps, the one bold and rapid, the other soft and 
soothing ; further, that the Irish taught in secret, and committed their 
lessons to memory.^ M. Conran gives an extract from this writer of 
which the following is a translation : " And while Scotland, daughter 
of this land, uses the Lyra (Harp), Tympano, and Choro, and Wales 
(uses) the Cithara, Trumpets, and Choro, the Irish make music on two 
kinds of musical instruments, although headlong and rapid, nevertheless 
sweet and pleasant, the modulations (moduli) crisp, and the small notes 
(notuli) intricate.* 

Caradoc of Lhancarvan, a Welsh authority (died c. 1147), assures us 

' Anthologia Hibernica, in Bunting, coll. 1809, an early authority, it is still of value as showiug 

p. 15. the estimation in which the instrument was held 

2 Holy War, by Thomas Fuller, Book v. 1639 ; in IG39. 

B'Alton's Essaj' on Ancient Ireland, p. 339. ^ Bnnting, coll. 1S09, note, p. 2, and also p. 23. 

Even if Fuller's statement was not taken from ^ National Music, note, p. 92. 


(according to Wynne) that the Irish devised all the instrument tunes 
in use among the Welsh. ^ 

1168. Amhlaeibh MacMnaighneorach, chief OUamh of Ireland in 
harp-playing, died." 

David Powell, a Welsh histoi'ian (1584) who follows Caradoc, states 
that " there are three sorts of minstrels in Wales. The second sort 
are plaiers upon instruments, chiefelye the Harp and Growth, whose 
musice for the most part came to Wales with Griffyth ap Gonan, 
who being on one side an Irishman by his mother and grandmother, 
and also borne in Ireland, brought over with him out of that countrie 
(c. 1080) divers cunning musicians into Wales, who derived in a manner 
all the instrumental musike that now is there used, as appeareth as 
well by the books written of the same, as also by the names of 
the tunes and measures used amongst them to this dale." ^ 

Passing these brief notices we find Giraldus Gambrensis, an accom- 
plished ecclesiastic who unquestionably had a considerable knowledge 
of music, and who accompanied Prince John to Ireland in 1185, and 
must have had frequent opportunities of hearing the very finest 
perfoi'mei's of the period, making the following remarkable statements : — 
" The attention of this people to musical instruments, I find worthy 
of commendation, in which their skill is beyond comparison superior 
to that of any nation I have seen.^ For in these, the modulation is 
not slow and solemn, as in the instruments of Britain to which we 
are accustomed, but the sounds are rapid and precipitate, yet, at the 
same time, sweet and pleasing. It is wonderful how, in such precipitate 
rapidity of the fingers, the musical proportions are preserved, and by 
their art faultless throughout ; in the midst of their complicated 
modulations, and most intricate arrangement of notes, by a rapidity 
so sweet, a regularity so irregular, a concord so discordant, the melody 
is rendered harmonious and perfect, whether the chords of the 
diatessaron (the fourth), or diapente (the fifth) are struck together ; 
yet they always begin in a soft mood, and end in the same, that all 
may be perfected in the sweetness of delicious sounds. They enter 

' Caradoc of Lhancarvan, The History of Wales, ^ Lloyd's translation, edition 15S4. Bunting 

p. 158, W. Wynne's edition, 1697. O'Curry's coll. 1809, p. 5. 
Lectures, vol. iii. p. 353 ; Bunting, coll. 1809, p. 0. ■'Before writing this account, Giraldus had 

2 Annals, travelled through Wales, England, and France. 


upon, and again leave, their modulations with so much subtlety ; and the 
tinkliugs of the small strings sport with so much freedom under the 
deep notes of the bass, delight with so much delicacy, and soothe so 
softly, that the excellence of their art seems to lie in concealing it. 

' Concealed, it pleases ; but detected, shames.' 

"It is to be observed, however, that Scotland and Wales — the 
latter, in order to disseminate the art ; the former, in consequence of 
intercourse and affinity — strive with rival skill to emulate Ireland in 
music. Ireland, indeed, employs and delights in two instruments, 
the Harp and the Tabor ; Scotland in three, the Harp, Tabor, and 
Growth ; and Wales in the Harjj, the Pipes, and the Growth. The 
Irish prefer strings of brass wii-e to those made of thongs. In the 
opinion of many at this day, Scotland has not only equalled, but 
even far excels her mistress, Ireland, in musical skill ; wherefore they 
seek there also the fountain, as it were, of the art." 

The writer considers it desirable to reprint hei'e a literal translation 
of a beautiful poem, which shows in a remarkable manner the value 
placed upon the Harp by those of the highest rank both in Ireland 
and in Scotland. 

A small but singularly sweet and very beautiful Harp which had 
belonged to Donnchadh Gairbreach O'Brien, whose father, the last King 
of Munster, died in 1194, had been by some means removed to Scotland, 
and MacGonmidhe, poet to the Irish chief, was directed by his master 
to endeavour to recover it, either as a free gift or in exchange for a 
flock of Irish sheep. 

The envoy proceeded on his mission, but, failing to induce the 
Scottish king or chief to restore O'Brien's Harp, produced on his 
return the following beautiful lines, the first portion of which may be 
his address to the possessor of the harp : — 

" Bring unto me the harp of my king. 
Until upon it I forget my grief — 
A man's grief is soon banished 
By the notes of that sweet-sounding tree.^ 

^ In 1187 Giraldus wrote about the Irish minds ; it clears the clouded couutenance, and 
instrument : — "It not a little exhilarates dejected removes superciliousness and austerity." 


He to whom this music-tree belonged, 

He was a noble youth of sweet performance. 
Many an inspired song has he sweetly sung 
To that elegant, sweet-voiced instrument. 

Many a splendid jewel has he bestowed 
From behind this gem-set tree ; 

Often has he distributed the spoils of the race of Conn, 
With its graceful curve placed to his shoulder. 

Beloved the hand that struck 

The thin slender-side board : 

A tall, brave youth was he who played upon it 

With dexterous hand, with perfect facility. 

Whenever his hand touched 

That home of music in perfection, 
Its prolonged, soft, deep sigh 
Took away from all of us our grief. 

When into the hall would come 

The race of Cas of the waving hair, 
A harp with pathetic strings within 
Welcomed the comely men of Cashel. 

The maiden became known to all men, 

Throughout the soft-bordered lands of Banha. 
' It is the harp of Donnchadh ! ' cried every one — 
The slender, thin and fragrant tree. 

O'Brien's harp ! sweet its melody 

At the head of the banquet of fair Gabhrau ; 

Oh ! how the pillar of bright Gahhran called forth 

The melting tones of the thrilling chords." 

The reply of the Scottish chief is as follows : — 

" No son of a bright Gaedhil shall get 

The harp of O'Brien of the flowing hair ; 

No son of a foreigner shall obtain 

The graceful, gem-set, fairy instrument ! 

Woe ! to have thought of sending to beg thee, 
Thou harp of the chieftain of fair Limerick — 
Woe ! to have thought of sending to purchase thee 
For a rich flock of Erinn's sheep. 

Sweet to me is thy melodious soft voice, 

maid ! who wast once the arch-king'sj 
Thy sprightly voice to me is sweet. 
Thou maiden from the island of Erinn. 


If to me were permitted in this eastern land 
The life of the evergreen yew-tree, 
The noble chief of Brendon's hill, 
His hand-harp I would keep in repair. 

Beloved to me — it is natural for me — 
Are the beautiful woods of Scotland. 
Though strange, I love dearer still 
This tree from the woods of Erinn.''^ 

In the Annals of Loch Ce it is stated that " Aedh (or Hugh), the son 
of Donnslebhe O'Sochlachann, vicar of Cunga, a professor of singing and 
harp-tuning, invented a tuning (or arrangement) for himself that had 
not been done before him, and he was a proficient in all arts both of 
poetry and engraving and writing, and of all the arts that man executes," 
died in 1225.° 

1269. Hugh O'Finaghty, a learned minstrel, died.^ 

John Clynn, a friar of the Convent of Friars Minor of Kilkenny, in 
his Annals of Ireland (c. 1336), refers to Camus O'Caruill as a "famous 
performer on the tabor, and a Phoenix in execution on the harp, and so 
pre-eminently distinguished with his school of about twenty musicians, 
that, though he could not be called the inventor of stringed musical 
instruments, he was the master and director of all his own contem- 
poraries, and superior to all his predecessors." * 

1328. The Blind MacCarroll, whose name was Mulrony, the chief of 
the minstrels of Ireland in his time, was slain." 

1357. Donslevy MacCarroll, a noble master of music and melody, the 
best of his time, died.® 

1360. Gilla-na-naev O'Conmhaigh, Chief Professor of Music in 

Thomond, died.'^ 

1361. Magrath O'Finnaghty, Chief Musician and Tympanist to the 

Gil-Murray,^ died." 

' Professor Eugene O'Curry, to whom we are the Rev. M. Kelly. Of poor O'Caruill and his 

indebted for bringing this interesting poem to j^upils the fate was melancholy. They, together 

light, says : — " It is impossible in a severe literal with their patron, Lord Bellingham, were cruelly 

translation to do anything like justice to the massacred. — Walker, p. 123. 

fervour and beautiful pathos of this touching ^ Annals, 

poem." — Lectures, vol. iii. pp. 271, 272, 273. ^ Ibid. 

'' O'Curry's Lectures, vol. iii. p. 264. ' Ibid. 

^ Annals. * O'Connor, O'Curry's Materials, p. 219. 

■' Cambieusis Eversus, vol. i. p. 313, edited by ^ Annals. 


In the fortieth year of Edward ill., 1367, Lionel, Duke of Clarence, 
Lord-Deputy, held a famous parliament in Kilkenny when an act was 
passed, c. 15 of which is as follows: — "Also whereas the Irish Agents 
who come amongst the English, spy out the secrets, plans, and policies 
of the English, whereby great evils have often resulted ; it is agreed and 
forbidden that any Irish Agents, that is to say, pipers,^ story-tellers, 
babblers, rimers, mowers, nor any other Irish Agent shall come amongst 
the EngUsh, and that no English shall receive or make gift to such ; and 
that he that shall do so, and be attainted, shall be taken, and imprisoned, 
as well the Irish Agents as the English, who receive or give them any- 
thing, and after that they shall make fine at the King's will ; and the 
instruments of their agency shall forfeit to our lord the King.""* 

1369. John MacEgan and Gilbert O'Bardan, two accomplished young 
harpers of Conmaicne,' died.'' 

Although Irish minstrels were excluded from the Pale, an exception 
was made in the case of one individual during 1376, for, by letters 
jjatent of 25th October, we learn that as " Dowenald O'Moghane, an 
Irish minstrel residing among the English, had constantly remained in the 
fealty, peace, and obedience of the King ; and that he had inflicted divers 
injuries on the Irish enemies, for which reason he durst not approach 
near them ; it was concluded that he might continually reside among the 
English, and that they might receive and entertain him notwithstanding 
the statute."^ 

1379. William, the son of Gilla-Ceach MacCarroll, the most eminent 
of the Irish in music, died.*^ 

During the fourteenth century Ranulf Higden compiled his Poly- 
chronicon, which was translated by John Trevisa in 1387. If Higden 
wrote from personal knowledge, and not after having perused the MS. of 
Giraldus Cambrensis, the following statement corroborates that writer 

' Sir John Davies says, "minstrels." — A Dis- statutes of Kilkenny were revived and confirmed 

coverie of the State of Ireland, p. 214. during the tenth year of Henry VII., 1495. — Ibid., 

- The Statute of Kilkenny, by James Hardiman, pp. 216-235. 

pp. 55, 5S, commimicated by G. A. G. Cole, Esq. 3 Dunmore, County Galway. — O'Curry's Lec- 

During the third year of Henry iv. , 1402, Lord tures, vol i. p. xxix. 

Thomas of Lancaster, his second son, was appointed '' Annals. 

Lieutenant of Ireland. On his arrival he held a ^ Patent Roll, quoted by Hardiman, Statute of 

]iarliament, "wherein he gave new life to the Kilkenny, 

statutes of Kilkenny."— Davies, p. 229. The '' Annals. 


in a remarkable manner : — " Irishmen be cunning in two manner instru- 
ments of music, in the Harp and Tymbre, that is armed with wire and 
strings of brass, in which instruments, tho they play hastily and swiftly, 
they make right merry harmony and melody with those tunes, and 
warbles, and notes, and begin with be molle, and play secretly under 
dim sound under the great strings, and turn again unto the same, so 
that the greater part of the craft hideth the craft, as it woud seem as 
though the craft so hid, shoud be ashamed, if it were taken." ' 

John of Fordun, a Scottish priest who visited Ireland some time 
during the latter end of the fourteenth century, says that Ireland was 
the fountain of music in his time, from whence it then began to flow 
into Scotland and Wales. ^ 

About the close of the fourteenth century (1395) Eichard ii. spent a 
considerable time in Ireland. During the stay of this monarch in the 
Irish capital four native kings submitted to him, and a commodious house 
in Dublin was set apart for their entertainment. Henry Castide, who 
was ordered to reside with them and instruct them in the usages of the 
English, informed Froissart that — " When these kings were seated at 
table and the first dish served, they would make their minstrels and 
principal servants sit beside them, and eat from their plates and drink 
from their cups. They told me, this was a praiseworthy custom of 
their country, where everything was common but the bed. I permitted 
this to be done for three days ; but on the fourth I ordered the tables 
to be laid out and covered properly, placing the four kings at an vipper 
table, the minstrels at another below, and the servants lower still. 
They looked at each other, and refused to eat, saying I had deprived 
them of their old custom in which they had been brought up. I replied 
with a smile, to appease them, that the custom was not decent nor suit- 
able to their rank, nor would it be honourable for them to continue it ; 
for that now they should conform to the manners of the English ; and 
to instruct them in these particulars was the reason I resided with 
them, having been so ordered by the King of England and his council. 
When they heard this they made no further opposition to whatever 
I proposed, from having placed themselves under the obedience of 

1 Bunting, coll. 1809, note, p. i. - This statement is by Walker, p. 121, but is 

apparently not in Scotichronicou. 


England, and continued good-humouredlj to persevere in it as long 
as I staid with them."' 

It is stated that in 1395 a harper saved the life of Art MacMun-ogh, 
an uncompromising opponent of the English, in the following manner. 
The lords of the Pale invited him to a banquet. All were secretly armed, 
while MacMurrogh, not suspecting treachery, was only accompanied by 
his harper and one attendant. After the feast the minstrel, seated near 
a window, delighted the company with his music ; but suddenly he 
changed his notes to Rosg Catha, or war-song, for which he was repri- 
manded by MacMurrogh, and ordered to play only festive airs. But the 
harper again resumed the war-ode, which surprised MacMurrogh, who, 
becoming indignant at the disobedience of his harper, arose from the 
table to remonstrate with him. But perceiving that the house was 
surrounded by armed men, he brandished his sword, and, cutting his 
way through the surrounding forces, mounted his steed and escaped 
with safety.^ 

1396. Mathew O'Luinin, Erenagh of Arda (Fermanagh), a man of 
various professions, and skilled in history, poetry, music, and 
[general] literature, died.^ 

1399. Boethius MacEgan, a man extensively skilled in the Fenachus 
law and in music, and who kept a celebrated house of 
hospitality, died.* 

1404. Gilla-Dinvin MacCurtin, Ollamh of Thomond in Music, died.' 

By a roll of the thirteenth year of Henry vi., 1435, we learn that 
the Irish Mimi, Clarsaghours (harpers), Tympanours, Crowthores, Ker- 
raghers, Bymours, Skelaghes, Bards, and others, contrary to the statute 
of Kilkenny, went among the English and exercised their arts and 
minstrelsies (minstrelsias et artes suas), and that they afterwards pro- 
ceeded to the Irish enemies, and led them upon the king's liege 

1490. Finn O'Haughluinn, Chief Tympanist of Ireland, died.'^ 

From 1491 we find in the Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer of 
Scotland a number of interesting entries, showing that the reigning 

1 Froissart, Johnes's trans., vol. iv. p. 431. * Ibid. 

- Taffe's Ireland, quoted by Conran. "Rot. Pat., Hardiman's Minstrelsy, vol. i., 

3 Annals. note, pp. xviii., xix. 

■* Ibid. ' Annala. 


sovereign, James iv.', himself a performer, had directed payments to be 
made to persons who had played upon the Clareschaw or Irish Harp. In 
April 1501 payments were made to Pate (Peter) Harper on the Clarscha, 
and also to the Ireland Clarescha. It is more than probable that Pate 
was also a native of Ireland ; ' he was attached to the court, and is 
mentioned in December 1501, January 1501-2, March 1502, April and 
October 1503, January 1503-4, and January 1504-5. Upon the last- 
mentioned date, his son, who had probably played before the king 
for the first time, is also referred to. Again in March 1505, Pate 
received xiiij s., and in December of the same year an " Irland 
Clarschaar " received v s. In April " Pate harpar Clarscha " and his son 
are mentioned. Pate is also noticed in July 1505, November 1506, 
March 1506-7, and April, June, and July 1507. During 1512 O'Donel, 
an important Irish chief, visited Scotland, and on his departure, July 
11th, the king commanded that his harper, who presumably had played 
before him, should receive vij le. 

As only a portion of the record has been printed, the writer is unable 
to state whether Irish harpers were attached to or played before 
the Scottish court during the remainder of the sixteenth century, 
but it is interesting to find that Irish music was appreciated by 
James, who was, we know, accustomed to hear Italian minstrels, 
Luterers, Fiddlers, English, Lowland, and Highland harpers, and other 
skilled musicians. 

Polydore Virgil, who resided in England during the first half of 
the sixteenth century, states " That the Irish practise music, and are 
eminently skilled in it. Their performance, both vocal and instru- 
mental, is exquisite ; but so bold and impassioned, that it is amazing 
how they can observe the rules of their art amidst such rapid evolutions 
of the fingers and vibrations of the voice ; and yet they do observe them 
to perfection." ^ 

In Major's Greater Britain, published in 1521, it is stated that the 
Irish and the wild Scots were pre-eminent as performers on the Harp. 

Before 1534 Patrick Finglas, Chief Baron of the Exchequer in 

' It may be remarked that " Pate harper on Clareschaw " is also mentioned, 
the Harp," and " Pate har|ier on the Clarscha," 
were both retaineil at Court, and that an "Ersche - Cambrensis Eversus, vol i. p. 311. 


Ireland, wrote a Breviat of the getting of Ireland, and the decline of the 
same, in which he recommended "That noo Irish Ministralls, Rymers, 
Shannaghs (Genealogists) ne Bards, be Messingers to desire any Goods 
of any Man dwelling wythin the English Pale, upon Pain of Forfeiture 
of all ther Goods, and their Bodys to be imprisoned at the Kino-'s Will." ^ 

John Good, a Catholic priest who had been educated at Oxford, 
and was master for many years of a school at Limerick, in 1566 wrote 
a description of the Irish, in which he says : "They love music mightily, 
and of all instruments are particularly taken with the Harp, which 
being strung up with brass wire, and beaten with crooked nails, is very 
melodious. They use the bag-pipe in their war instead of a trumpet." 
Camden, who published in 1586, gives the foregoing quotations from 
Good, and also makes some statements regarding the Irish on his 
own authority, one being as follows : — " These great men have likewise 
their particular Historians, to chronicle the famous actions of their lives ; 
Physitians too, and Poets, whom they call Bards ; and Harpers, who 
have all of them their several estates and possessions allowed them ; and 
in each territory there are certain particular families for nothing else but 
these employments ; for instance, one for Breahans, another for Historians, 
and so for the rest, who take care to instruct their children and relations 
in their own respective professions, and by that means leave always one 
or other of the same race to succeed them." - 

Vincentio Galilei, whose work on Music was printed in 1581, writes 
as follows : — According to Dante (born 1265) the Harp was brought 
to Italy from Ireland " where they are excellently made, and in great 
numbers, the inhabitants of that island having practised upon it for many 
and many ages: nay, they even place it in the arms of the kingdom, 
and paint it on their public buildings, and stamp it on their coin, givincr 
as the reason their being descended from the royal prophet David. ^ 
The Harps which this people use are considerably larger than ours, 
and have generally the strings of brass, and a few steel for the highest 
notes, as in the clavichord. The musicians who perform upon it keep 

1 Hibernica, by Walter Harris, p. 9S. Finglas Lyon King-ot-Arms, 1542, gives tlie arms of 

was Chief Justice of the King's Bench in 1534. David, King of Israel, as " Az. a harp or," and the 

— Ibid., Preface. - arms of the King of Ireland " Az. a king seated im 

- Camden's Britannia. a throne afronti, holding a sceptre, crowned and 

" It may be remarkt-d that Sir David Lyndsay, habited proper.' 


the nails of their fingers long, forming them with care in the shape 
of the quills which strike the strings of the spinnet, etc. I had a few 
months since (by the civility of an Irish gentleman) an opportunity 
of seeing one of their Harps, etc."^ 

From Holinshed, who published in 1585, we learn that "Their 
noble men, and noblemens tenants, now and then make a set feast, 
which they call coshering, whereto flock all their reteiners, whom they 
name followers, their rithmours, their bards, their harpers that feed 
them with musike : and when the harper twangeth or singeth a song, all 
the companie must be whist, or else he chafeth like a cutpursse, by 
reason his harmonie is not had in better praise." ^ 

So far, all those who are known to have noticed the Irish Harp have 
praised the instrument, and no fault has been found with the performers. 
We now, however, meet with a writer — a native of Ireland — who is 
the first, and indeed the only, author who is not thoroughly appreciative. 
Richard Stanyhurst, descended from a family who had resided for many 
generations in the neighbourhood of Dublin, wrote in 1585 as follows : — 
" The harper uses no plectrum, but scratches the chords with his crooked 
nails, and never marks the flow of his pieces to musical rhythm, nor the 
accent and quantity of the notes ; so that, to the refined ears of an 
adept, it comes almost as offensively as the grating of a saw." ^ The 

1 The whole passage is given in Bunting's coll. Dr. Lynch, who contrasts the estimate of 

1809, pp 24-25, and a large portion will also be Giraldus of the performance of the harpers with 

found in Hunting's coll. 1840, chap. iii. The that of Stanyhurst, saj's : "It is by no means 

statements regarding the number of strings are surprising that the same music should be relished 

confusiuL', but Sir Samuel Ferguson was evidently by some and disagreeable to others, according to 

under the impression that the number, i)resum- their dififereut skill or taste in musical science," 

ably 29, might be an error for ,30. etc. "But perha))s the conflicting opinion of 

Giraldus and Stanyhurst can be reconciled if we 
- P. 45. The reader is requested to contrast . , • . .. .i. ijr .. ..■ • i ■ i, 

' take into account the diiierent times in which 

this extr.act with the statement in Walker, note, , ,■ j t ii j i /->■ u i i j 

they lived. In the days of Giraldus Ireland was 

"■ """ not subdued; her Irish kings were in full pos- 

3 Giraldus, who, as we have shown, was session of their power, and the tones of joy and 

able to appreciate the music and the performance mirth predominated in her music ; but a sad 

of the harpers, says that " those very strains which change for the worse had come over her before 

afford deep and unspeakable mental delight to the time of Stanyhurst, and the airs which her 

those who have skilfully penetrated into the musicians then attuned to the harp inv."irialily 

mysteries of the art, fatigue rather than gratify bieathe a certain tone of sadness," etc. "Stany- 

the ears of others, who seeing do not perceive and hurst's attack, moreover, is directed against rude 

hearing do not understand ; and by whom the harpers, but not against the instrument itself ; 

finest music is esteemed no better than a confused and Ireland is not the only country infested by 

and disorderly noise, and will be heard with these rude performers." — Cambreusis Eversus, 

uuwilliogness and disgust." — Bohn's edition. vol. i. [pp. ;jl3-3l5. 


harpers he so severely criticises were indifferent performers who played 
during supper/ 

In Stanyhurst's time harpers of eminence would have been attached 
to the households of the great nobles and chiefs. He, however, 
happened to meet with one with whom he was pleased, whom he 
thus notices : " Crusius, a contemporary of our own, is by far the most 
eminent harper within the memory of man. fie is entirely opposed to 
that barbarous din which others elicit from their discordant and badly 
strung harps. Such is the order of his measures, the elegant com- 
bination of his notes, and his observance of musical harmony, that his 
airs strike like a spell on the ears of his audience, and force you to 
exclaim, not that he is the most perfect merely, but in truth almost 
the only harper."^ Dr. Lynch, when quoting this author, says there 
never was a time when Ireland could boast of only one distinguished 
harper, and many eminent performers may have flourished in parts 
of Ireland which Stanyhurst did not visit. 

Dr. Keating complains that Stanyhurst called the musicians of 
Ireland a set of blind harpers, and states that if proper inquiries had 
been made, it would have been found "that for one musician that was 
blind there were twenty who had their perfect sight." ^ 

Barnaby Rich, who visited Ireland during the reign of James i., 
says: "They (the Irish) have Harpers, and those are so reverenced 
among the Irish, that in the time of rebellion they will forbear to hurt 
either their persons or their goods."* 

Pretorius, who published his work on Musical Instruments in 1619, 
states : " The Irish Harp has rough thick brass strings, forty- three in 
number, and is beyond measure sweet in tone." 

Bacon, in his Sylva Sylvarum, published in 1627, after his death, refers 
to the Irish Harp, which, he says, " maketh a more resounding sound than 
a Bandora, Opharion, or Cittern, which have likewise wire strings, and 
no instrument hath the sound so melting and prolonged as the Irish 

In a MS. History of Ireland [circa 1636) in the Library of the Royal 
Irish Academy, it is sta,ted that " the Irish are much addicted to musik 

1 Bunting, Coll. 1809, p. 19 ^ History, pp xi., xii. 

- Cambrensis Eversus, vol. i. p. 311. * Walljer, p. 144. 


generally, and you shall find but very few of their gentry, either man or 
woman, but can play on the harp ; alsoe you shall not find a house of any 
account, without one or two of those instruments, and they always keep 
a harper to play for them at their meales, and all other times, as often 
as they have a desire to recreate themselves, or others which comes to 
their houses, therewith." ^ 

M. de la BouUaye Le Gouz, who travelled in Ireland during 1644, 
states that the inhabitants " are fond of the harp, upon which nearly all 
play, as the English do upon the fiddle, the Scotch upon the bagpipe, etc. 
They march to battle with the bagpipes instead of fifes ; but they have 
few drums." ^ 

Dr. Keating, the historian, who is supposed to have died before 1644, 
wrote some fine lines in praise of his harper. In this poem he asks, Who 
is it that plays the enchanting music that dispels all the ills that man 
is heir to ? and thus answers the query : 

"Tadhg O'Cobthaigh of the beauteous form, — 
The chief beguiler of women. 
The intelligent concordance of all difficult tunes, 
The thrill of music and of harmony. "^ 

Nicholas Pierce, who lived previous to 1640, although blind is stated 
to have been not only the first master of the instrument of his time, but 
a composer of lamentations, etc.* 

The following extracts are of interest as showing that the Irish 
Harp was occasionally to be heard in England, and how extremely 
difficult it was to become a master of the instrument. John Evelyn 
was competent to give an opinion ; he had taken lessons upon the 
Theorbo and Lute, was fond of music, and notices some of the finest 
performers on the Welsh Harp, Violin, Lute, etc., of his time ; his 
statements, therefore, regarding the merits of the Irish Harp, no longer 
to be heard, are of value : — 

" 1653-4, 20th January. — Come to see my old acquaintance and the 

' Irish Minstrelsy, by James HardimaD, vol. i. This is stated by T. Moore, in a note to " The 

P- '^3- Legacy," to have been written by O'Hallorau. 

2 Crofton Croker's translation, Irish Penny The writer has failed to verify the quotation. 
Journal, p. 5 : " In every house there was one or 

two harps free to all travellers, who were the ^ Curry s Lectures, vol. iii. p. 215. 

more caressed the more they excelled in music." ^ Ibid., pp. 263-4. 


most Incomparable player on the Irish harp, Mr. Clark, after his travels. 
He was an excellent musician, a discreet gentleman, born in Devonshire 
(as I remember). Such music before or since did I never hear, that 
instrument being neglected for its extraordinary difficulty ; but in my 
judgment far superior to the lute itself, or whatever speaks with 
strings." ^ 

"1668, 17th November. — When dining at the Groom Porters, I 
heard Sir Edward Sutton play excellently on the Irish harp ; he per- 
forms genteelly, but not approaching my worthy friend, Mr. Clark, a 
gentleman of Northumberland, who makes it execute lute, viol, and 
all the harmony an instrument is capable of: pity it is that it is not 
more in use ; but indeed to play well takes up the whole man, as Mr. 
Clark has assured me, who, though a gentleman of quality and parts, 
was yet brought up to that instrument from five years old, as I remember 
he told me."^ 

It has been stated that " when lists were made of the effects or 
property of the proscribed adherents of James ii., it was found that nearly 
all, even the Anglo-Norman families of the Pale, possessed one Irish 

As most of the references to " the Irish Harp or Irish harpers, 
down to the seventeenth century, have now been noticed, and it has 
not been considered necessary to refer to the interesting account of 
noted harpers who lived during the seventeenth and eighteenth cen- 
turies, printed by Bunting in his coll. 1840, further than hereafter 
to notice such paragraphs as describe their methods of playing, this 
portion of the chapter may close with the following complimentary 
statement by Count Hoghenski : " Les Irlandois sont entre tons les 
peuples ceux qui passent pour jouer le mieux de cet instrument." — 
Article 'Harp' in the Encyclopedie.'' 

1 Diary, vol. i. p. 300. but has failed. It is possible there may have 

2 Ibid., vol. ii. p. 39. been sume statement in a letter, but no list is 
^ Conran's National Music, p 214. The writer likely to have been made 

has made every effort to verify this statement, * Walker, note, p. 122. M. Conran, p. 174. 



The earliest representation of the Irish Harp in metal appears upon 
the shrine of St. Moedoc, circa eleventh century, preserved in the Dublin 
Museum. The Harp, which is of small size, rests upon the knees of the 
jierformer, and against his left shoulder. The number of strings is of 
little consequence ; the important point is that it is an instrument (to 
play upon which both hands are required, the left for the treble, and 
the right for the bass), and so accurate is the representation, that the 
manner of playing, that is by pulling the strings by the nails, is clearly 
represented. The Harp has a curved fore-pillar, which expands on the 
outer side, at a short distance from the upper termination, and also from 
the lower end.^ The back of the box is curved inwards,^ and upon the 
side are indents. As these do not appear upon other portions of the plate, 
they may be intended to represent the decoration of the instrument.^ 

Another representation occurs upon the shrine of St. Patrick's Tooth, 
1350, also preserved in the Dublin Museum. Here the Harp, which is 
considerably larger, has twenty-three strings. It is placed against the 
left arm, and rests neither upon the knees nor upon the ground, but is 
apparently suspended by a strap, which, however, is not represented. 
The fingers of the left hand of the performer are shown as pulling the 
treble strings, those of the right the bass strings. There is no decoration 
upon the instrument ; the fore-pillar is curved.^ 

The representations of the Irish Harp upon stone are of interest, but 
not of the same importance, the coarseness of the material and natural 
decay rendering them more or less indistinct. They may, however, be 
seen at Ullard, South East Cross Monasterboice, Durrow, Castle Dermot, 
Clonmacnois and Kells.* 

' This is the earliest representation of what Planche, from a MS. copy of Giraldus Cam- 
may be termed the T formation of fore-pillar to brensis, illuminated about the end of the twelfth 
be hereafter referred to. century. 

, ™, ... , i^i L J TT r , * Bunting, in coll. 1840, p. 39, gives a woodcut, 

'■ The artist no doubt had a Harp so formed , , , , , , , , , ,, ■ • , 

, , ,. _, . ,,, , , ■ but so bad that those who had not seen the original 

beiore him. ihis curvature, although unusual, is ,, , , ^ , , i- • 

, , frii. ,_ , r\^ , r X, TT would suppose the performer to be kneeling m 

not unknown. The back of the box of the Harp , r . ■ 

in the Belfast Museum, to be hereafter referred . . 

to, is slightly curved. 

° Communicated by J. Romilly Allen, Esq. : — 

" Harps are represented, on the knees of ecclesi- 

' It should be noticed that small circles are astics, on several of our ancient stone crosses, of 

represented on the Irish Harp, as illustrated in the eighth, ninth, and tenth centuries." — Petrie, 

the History of British Costume, by J. R. in Bunting, coll. 1840, p. 42. 











Perhaps the latest representation of the Harp in stone is that which 
appears upon a monument in Jerpoint Abbey, Kilkenny. 

This piece of sculpture is most interesting. The sculptor unques- 
tionably had a Harp (probably that which had belonged to the chief) 
before him which he found it desii'able to reproduce on a much 
reduced scale,^ as a full size representation would have interfered with 
the design. The Harp is placed upon the back of the box, as was no 
doubt usual when not in use, and rests beside the right thigh of the 
recumbent effigy. The instrument has a somewhat depressed form ; 
that is, from the back of the box to the upper portion of the fore- 
arm the measurement is not so great as upon the existing specimens ; 
the fore-pillar, in fact, scarcely rises above the effigy. The box, which 
is a truncated triangle in form, has the projecting block at the lower end 
and the raised string hole band, which terminates upon either side at 
the upper end in semicircular curves. At the lower extremity this 
raised portion is carried round the fore-pillar, where it joins the pro- 
jecting block. The sounding-board is flat, and there are no sound- 
holes. The fore-pillar is curved and has the T formation, which 
commences at a greater distance than is usual from either extremity.^ 
The harmonic curve has no hump, and if it ever projected beyond the 
junction with the fore-pillar, that portion has been broken off or has 
decayed. The metal band for the pegs is represented, and forms a single 
curve. The stone is much decayed, and there is not a vestige of decoration. 
The Harp, excepting that it has not the hump on the harmonic curve, 
resembles the Lament Harp in the National Museum at Edinburgh; 

The effigies probably belong to the early portion of the fifteenth 
century. A portion of the inscription remains, and from it we gather 
that the male figure was intended to represent William O'Banahan. 
The panels which now support the effigies belong to two periods, late 
fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.^ 

In the Image of Ireland, by John Derricke, 1581, there is a plate, 

' Measurement: Extreme length, 1 ft. 1| in.; moat obligingly visited Jerpoint for the purpose 

from back of box to highest point, 6 inches. of examining the monument and deciphering the 

^ This faulty construction is to be found upon inscription, 
the Lament Harp. The late Mr. George V. Du Noyer, who notices 

' For these particulars the writer is indebted the monument and gives an illustration of the 

to Richard Langrishe, Esq., F.R.I.A., and the Harp, supposes the name to be O'Habrahan. — 

Rev. Canon Hewson, who at considerable trouble Communicated by T. H. Longfield, Esq. 




representing an Irish Chief, and others, seated upon the ground at meat. 
A " bard " is reciting, or singing, while a minstrel plays upon a large 
Harp. The illustration is rude and grotesque, but is interesting. (See 
p. 6.) The harper is also seated on the ground, and pulls the strings with 
his finger-nails, which are long and somewhat crooked.^ (See Fig. i.) 

Fig. I. 

Fig. II. 

Pretorius, who published his work on Musical Instruments at 
Wolffenbilttel in 1619, gives a representation of an Irish Harp. The 
artist who worked for him neglected to reverse his drawing, but this 
defect has been remedied in the reproduction. The peculiar peak 
which is shown upon the upper portion of the harmonic curve, quite 
unlike the Scotch hump, is exactly similar to that which occurs upon the 
Castle Otway and the O'Ffogerty Harps. The metal band through which 
the pegs pass has a double curve, a form which is scarcely traceable upon 
Irish ^ or Highland Harps. The sounding-board is convex, as described 

' This is a conventional drawing. The artist 
certainly had not a Harp before him, and he did 
not know that the Harp should be strung upon 
the left side and held against the left shoulder. 

The engraver reversed the drawing, so the artist's 
work is proper!}* represented. 

- On the Kildare Harp there is a very slight 
downward curve at the treble end of the band. 


by Bacon as occurring upon Irish Harps in his time.^ The curved fore- 
pillar has the T formation ; the metal bands attaching it to the harmonic 
curve are shovrn. The Harp has forty-three strings. (See Fig. ii.) 

In the Pai'liamentary Gazetteer there is a coloured representation of 
the Arms of Ireland, with a certificate dated the 5th March 1844, by 
Sir William Betham, then Ulster King-at-Arms, in which he states that 
the Arms there shown appear in a manuscript volume in his office of 
the reign of King Henry viii. or thereabouts. The Harp is of the 
Celtic form with a lion's head at the junction of the harmonic curve and 
fore-pillar.^ The Harp may be seen upon the coins of Henry viii., also 
upon the Arms of Ireland which appear upon a map, 1567,^ and the 
Seal of the Customs and Port of Carrickfergus, 1605.* It is also 
represented upon the Arms of the Borough of Belturbet, 1613.* 


The Irish are known to have possessed at least two kinds of Harp. 
The smaller were used by churchmen," the larger by harpers. Some 
of the Harps are supposed to have had two rows of strings.^ If so, 
the form was abandoned ; for, with the exception of the Dalway Harp, 
which has a second row of seven, there is no instrument extant with more 
than one row of strings. In fact, as the Harp was strung with brass 
wire in the bass, and thin steel wire in the treble, the tension of two 

^ " An Irish Harp hath open air on both sides strument, most probably a Harp, was in use in 

of the strings : and it hath the concave or belly Ireland. On one occasion an abbot carried one 

not along the strings, but at the end of the of these at his girdle from Clare to Cashel. — 

strings." — Sylva Sylvarum, Bacon ; Spedding's O'Curry's Lectures, vol. iii. pp. 2fi2, 263, 333. 

ed., vol. ii. pp. 146-2'23. Communicated by E. Some centuries later Harps w ith eight strings were 

Alabaster, Esq. represented upon some of the ancient sculptured 

^ A representation of the Arms and Crest stones in Scotland. 
appeared in the E\'ening Telegraph, Bublin, " Bishops and Abbots and holy men in Ireland 

23rd September 1S99. were in the habit of carrying their harps with them 

' State Papers of Henry viii., vol. ii. lucor- in their peregrinations, and found pious delight 

rectly represented in Bunting's coll. 1840. in playing upon them. In consequence of this, 

^ Figured in the Ulster Journal of Archaeology, St. Kevin's harp was held in great reverence by 

vol. i. p. 42. This is perhaps the only representa- the natives, and to this day is considered a valu- 

tion of a Harp in Ireland with a distinct "hump " able relic, possessed of great virtues." — Giraldus 

on the harmonic curve. The engraver may have Cambrensis, Bohu's edition, p. 128. St. Kevin 

been Scotch, or the matrix may have been engraved (Coemgen) died 3rd June 618, and Giraldus 

in Scotland. The form is, as far as we can learn, visited Ireland in 1185, so it is possible that the 

peculiar to the Highlands. statement may be correct. 

' Ibid., p. 111. 7 This is Bunting's opinion, see coll. 1809, note, 

'' As early as 815 a portable eight-stringed in- pp. 3, 23, 24. 



1 Ledwich says 33, ranaing from C 
Tenor to D in Alt. — Antiquities, p. 254. 

- The Dalway Harp has this number in a row. 

■^ Noticed by Giraldus Cambrensis about 11S8, 
also in the thirteenth century, in Higden's Poly- 
chronicon, and by Dante, again in 1566 by Good, 
in 15S1 by Galilei, In 1585 by Stanyhurst, and 
by Lynch before 1680. 

■* Noticed during the thirteenth century by 
Dante, and in 1581 by Galilei. Iron, bronze, and 
silver strings for musical instrumeuts were manu- 
factured in Ireland at a remote period, and are nieu- 

rows of strings would have been such 

as to have necessitated an unusual and 

\ undesirable thickness of sounding-board, 

j^ which would, perhaps, have diminished 

the vibration. 

The smaller Harp had thirty, or 
even fewer, strings, the larger, from 
thirty-four^ to forty-five.^ They were 
of brass wire ^ in the bass, and of thin 
steel wire* in the treble.* 

The box or trunk of the Ancient 
Harp was usually in the form of a 
truncated triangle, and was invariably 
constructed out of a solid piece of 
timber, which was hollowed out from 
the back so as to form the sides, ends, 
and sounding-board, the cavity being 
covered at the back by a board (see 
illustration). "^ 

The sounding - board, which had 
generally sound-holes,'^ varied consider- 
ably in thickness, that of the Harp 
in Trinity College being rather less 
than a quarter of an inch, while that 
of the Castle Otway Harp varies from 
one-half to three-quarters of an inch. 

The sounding-board at an early 
period was probably perfectly flat, and 
the sides of the box of the same depth 

the tioned in a poem of the early part of the twelfth 
century, which O'Currj' believed to be several 
centuries earlier. — Lectures, vol. iii. ]ip. 223-24. 

' The writer regrets that the number of steel 
strings have not been noticed by any writer. 
They probably varied. 

" The illustration shows the back of the Castle 
Otway Harp. The projecting block has been 
added by the writer, as that portion of the 
instrument is inserted in a stand. 

' Dr. Lynch says. Through these boles the 
pegs attached to the strings were passed when 



throughout. Bacon, who notices the instrument, states that " an Irish 
harp hath open air (sound-holes) on both sides of the strings, and it 
hath the concave or belly, not along the strings, but at the end of the 
strings," i.e., as he says, "across the strings."' This is exactly what 
is shown in the illustration already noticed, reproduced from Pretorius's 
work of 1619, and it should be remarked that this representation shows 
the side of the box much deeper at the upper extremity than at the 
lower termination, as was then customary. Later on in the seventeenth 
century, the sounding-board was made to curve both along and across 
the strings, and the depth of the sides of the box varied, being occa- 
sionally deepest at the centre, and usually shallowest at the lower 

The form of the lower extremity of the sounding-board also varied. 
Originally it was probably a straight line, but during the seventeenth 
century the termination at either side of the projecting block took the 
form of semi-circular curves, more or less varied. There was visually a 
raised band dividing the sounding-board longitudinally, which was 
pierced with holes for the strings. Above, or surrounding the string- 
holes, pieces of metal, more or less ornamented, called the "shoes of 
the strings," were attached to prevent the wire strings from cutting 
the sounding-board.^ A number of these are here represented. 

Nos. 1, 2, 3, ami 4 on the Harp, Trinity College, Dublin. No. 5 on tlie Kildare Harp. 

/ — '^P ' — X 
Same scale. Nos. 6, 7, and 8 on the Harp in Dublin Museum. No. 9 ou the Downhill Harp. 

new strings were required. Some harps have 
cavities in the back which act as sound-holes, 
and must also have been used for stringing the 

' Sylva Sylvarum, Bacon ; Spedding's ed., 

vol. ii. pp. 146-223. 

^ The strings were attached to small pieces of 
wood, which jirevented them from being drawn 
through the string-holes. 


A portion of the box projected from the lower extremity several 
inches ; this had a cavity, into which the lower portion of the curved 
fore-pillar was inserted. The upper portion of the box had also a 
cavity, into which one end of the harmonic curve fitted. 

The harmonic curve was furnished with metal bands, on either 
side, of the same curved form as the wood, each with a series of holes, 
through which the tuning-pegs passed. These bands, which were, no 
doubt, intended to strengthen this portion of the instrument, were 
occasionally ornamented, and almost invariably formed single curves. 
The tuning-pegs, generally of brass, also frequently ornamented, were 
angular at the right end, and perforated at the left ; these were inserted 
on the right side,^ and the strings attached to the portions that projected 
from the left side. There were no nuts or straining-pegs, but when the 
tuning-pegs were firmly placed and the strings properly adjusted, it is 
probable that the strings were then very slightly, if at all, ofi" the plane. 

The harmonic curve was originally constructed out of one piece of 
wood. Into a cavity near the end, the upper portion of the fore-pillar was 
inserted ; the tension of the strings caused the harmonic curve to lean 
towards the left side, to counteract which metal straps or bands were 
sometimes attached to the right side of the harmonic curve and to the 
fore-pillar.^ A similar strengthening may be seen on the Lamont Harp 
and on the illustration in Pretorius's work. A most remarkable Irish 
example occurs amongst the brass mountings found at Ballinderry, and 
will be hereafter described (p. 63). During the seventeenth century the 
artificers commenced to carry the fore-pillar higher than was originally 
the practice, the upper portion then forming part of the harmonic curve. 
The remaining portion of the harmonic curve was mortised into it, both 
portions being held together by the metal bands on either side through 
which the tuning-pegs passed. 

The fore-pillar was more or less curved, and had for a considerable 
portion upon either side of the outer curve a projection, the section taking 
the form of the letter T. When this formation was made to commence 
a,nd terminate near to either extremity of the fore-pillar, an exceptionally 

^ By the right side is meant that which is curve) is coated on both sides with brass plates, 

nearest the right hand when the Harp is being which connect it elegantly with the bowliUe 

played upon. pillar." — Cambrensis Eversus, Dr. John Lynch. 

2 " The end of the curved neck (harmonic 


strong arm, able to withstand the tension of the strings towards the 
left, was the result. When the fore-pillar is much curved, it may 
occasionally be found slightly shortened by the direct tension of the 

The correct Irish names for the different portions of the Harp are 
given by O'Curry ^ as follows :— 

Crann Gleasta . . . Tuning Key.^ 

Corr ..... Harmonic Curve. 

Lamhchrann .... Front Pillar. 

Com ..... Belly, or Sound-Board. 

Bunting does not give the Irish for " Tuning Key," but he gives 
Crunatted, for the shoe of the strings, i.e. the piece of brass on the sound- 
board, through which the strings pass ; Aufhoirshnadhaim, for the 
wooden pegs to which the strings are fastened ; Uinaidhin ceangal, for 
the pin, or jack, that fastens the wire to the Harp.^ O'Curry gives 
Trom-Theda for the heavy strings, and Goloca for the light strings.'* 

That great care was bestowed upon the construction of the Irish 
Harp is shown from a poem written about 1640 by Pierce Ferriter of 
Ferriter's Cove, concerning a Harp which was presented to him by 
a Roscommon friend, the following portion of which, translated by 
O'Curry, the reader may find of interest. 

" The key of music and its gate, 

The wealth, and abode of poetry ! 
The skilful neat Irishwoman, 
The richly festive moaner. 

" Children in dire sickness, men in deep wounds, 
Sleep at the sounds of its crimson board * ; 
The merry witch has chased all sorrow, 
The festive home of music and delight. 

' Lectures, vol. iii. p. 256. ^ Bunting, coll. 1840, pp. 20-36. As O'Curry 

^ The handle was of wood or horn. — Lynch. has condemned Bunting's Irish terms, and under- 

Amongst the Collection of Antiquities on view at taken to correct them (which apparently he 

Belfast in 1852 were two Harp keys made of neglected to do), these may not be accurate. — 

bronze. One of these was exhibited by T. R. Lectures, vol. iii. p. 302. 

Murray, Esq., Edenderry, Co. Meath. The other, 4 ,, . , ^.r. 

from a crannog, Monalty Lake, was exhibited by 

E. P. Shirley, Esq., Lough Fea, Carrickmacross. — ^ Harps that are extant have considerable traces 

Descriptive Catalogue. of painting, staining, and gilding. 


" It found a Cor ' in a fruitful wood in [Mugh] Aoi ^ ; 
And a Lamh-chrann ^ in the fort of Seantraoi, — 
The rich sonorous disconrser of the musical notes ; 
And a comely Com''' from Eas dd Ecconn.^ 

" It found MacSithduill to plan it, 

It found Gathal to be its artificer, — 

And Beannglan, — great the honour, — 

Got [to do] its fastenings of gold ^ and its emblazoning. 

" Excellent indeed was its other adorner in gold, 
Farthalon More MacCathail, 
The harp of the gold and of the gems. 
The prince of decorators is Parthalon."' 

We find the wood for the instrument was brought from three 
distinct districts. An artist designed it. A woodworker or carpenter 
made it. An artificer either made or suppHed the gold fastenings and 
emblazoned it, and a decorator finished the instrument. 

Dr. Lynch, who gives a very accurate and minute description of 
the Irish Harp of the early portion of the seventeenth century,* states 
that the neck (harmonic curve) and fore-pillar were ornamented with 
varied and exquisite sculpture," also that the trunk was generally made 
of yew or sallow.^" The Harps had frequently the makers' names or 
inscriptions upon them. Lynch notices one of the latter which a native 
of Cashel had carved upon his Harp after the country had been overrun 
by the English, which runs as follows : — 

1 Harmonic curve. to be Cromwell's soldiers) in many places vent 

- In the plains of Roscommon. their vandal fury on every Harp which they 

3 Fore-pillar. meet, and break it to pieces. For Ireland loved 

4 Sounding-board (box). ^^^ ^"•'"P' ^"'^ ^^'^" '* ^^^ banished from every 
s t:. 11 X T> 11 1. T^ 1 "''^^ country she clung to it with a fonder affec- 
° Falls of Ballyshannon, Donegal. .. -j. . , , 

tion ; it was quartered on her national arms ; its 

<■' These fastenings may have been those for ^^gj^, ^^^ ^^^ delight."— Cambrensis Eversus. 

connecting the harmonic curve with the fore- 9 Unfortunately the Dalway Harp is the only 

P ■ specimen of the period extant. That this dis- 

7 Lectures, vol. iii. pp. 257-8. appearance of the splendidly decorated Ancient 

* His reason for his minute description is here Harps cannot altogether be attributed to natural 

given : — " It may not be by any means a useless decay is too true. Lynch '3 statement regarding 

labour, if I succeed in describing accurately for their destruction has been given in the previous 

my readers the form of the Harp, lest it should note. 

be involved in that universal ruin, which I fear i' We know that those of a later date were 

nothing but the arm of God alone can now avert most commonly made of red sallow, white sallow 

from my country. The precaution is the more or black sallow from the bog, but the box of the 

necessary, as some barbarous marauders (supposed Kildare Harp is supposed to be of yew. 


" Cur lyra funestos edit percussa sonores 1 
Scilicet amissum fors diadema gemit.''^ 

This writer states that in his own days " Father Robert Nugent made a 
very considerable improvement in the Harp by an invention of his own. 
He enclosed the open space between the trunk (sounding-board) and the 
upper part of the Harp (harmonic curve) with little pieces of wood, and 
made it like a box ; leaving on the right side of the box a sound-hole, 
which he covered with a lattice-work of wood, as in the clavichords. On 
each side he then arranged a row of chords, and thus increased to a great 
degree the melodious power of the Harp."" 

Another improver of the Harp was Nicholas Pierce of Clonmaurice, 
who lived before 1640. He added more wires to the instrument than 
it had at any previous period.' Unfortunately, of the number of strings 
we have no record. 

The duration of time during which the Celtic Harp, the box of 
which was formed out of a solid block, remained a serviceable instrument 
was limited by the power of the sounding-board to resist the tension 
of the strings. The harmonic curve and fore-pillar could be replaced if 
damaged, and although the beauty of the instrument was largely owing to 
the form of the harmonic curve and fore-pillar, the purity and sweetness 
of tone was mainly due to the construction of the box,'' which, musically 
speaking, was the most important portion of the instrument. It might 
be replaced if worn out or injured, but the tone would not then be the 
same. That the Irish and Scotch made use of a form of unusual strength 
is undeniable, but was the tone of an instrument, the box of which was 
cut out of a solid block, also superior ? If it was not superior, why was it 
universally so constructed ? It cannot be supposed that the Irish were 
unaware that the box could be constructed of several pieces, or, imless 
the use of glue was unknown, that the Irish artificers were incapable of 

' Wliicb Kelly, Dr. Lynch's tniuslator and second row of seven strings, to be one of Nugent's 

editor, thus renders : — Harps ; but the writer does not think this possible, 

"Why breathes my Harp the ever-mournful strain? the harmonic curve shows no appearance of having 

It mourns the long-lost gem, the fall of Erin's reign ! " been joined to a box in the manner described. 

^ Cambrensis Eversus. There is no known 3 Q'Curry's Lectures, vol. iii. pp. 263-64. 

specimen of Nugent's improved Harp. As Lynch * The oldest specimens of the Welsh Harp the 

must have been familiar with it, his description writer has seen had sounding-boards, the grain of 

may be accepted as accurate, but it is unintel- which ran along, not across, the strings, although 

ligiWe. His editor and translator, the Rev. M. the bodies resembled those of the eighteenth 

Kelly, supposes the Uahvay Harp, which has a century French Harps. 


building up a box. Yet amongst the existing specimens we only find 
Harps with built-up boxes that belong to a comparatively recent period. 

Small Harps, such as that represented upon the monument at 
Jerpoint, with flat sounding-boards and raised string bands, must have 
withstood the tension of the strings for a lengthened period, and the 
Highland specimens give, perhaps, the most reliable clue as to the dura- 
tion of instruments so formed. An examination of these Highland 
Harps shows that, although the sounding-boards in both instances have 
been raised or drawn up by the tension of the strings, were it not for 
the ravages of the wood-worms, they would now be serviceable as 
musical instruments, although they may have been strung and occasionally 
played upon for two centuries or more.^ These Highland Harps are small, 
the larger Irish instruments of a later period, with thirty, if not more 
numerous, strings do not appear to have lasted so long. The Downhill 
Harp was in use for one hundred and ten years, and probably the 
Kildare Harp and certainly the Castle Otway Harp for a longer period. 

When the sounding-board began to yield to the tension of the 
strings, bands of metal were placed across the sounding-board and 
attached to the sides of the box, or the " shoes of the strings " were 
removed and a long strip of metal, pierced with holes the full length of the 
sounding-board, was placed over the string-holes; these unsightly additions 
enabled the harper to continue to use the instrument for some time. 

It may be stated that the projecting-block, which might be supposed 
to be a weak portion of the instrument, has not, as far as the writer 
is aware, been damaged in any case by the downward thrust of the 
fore-pillar, although the strain in some cases has been so great as to 
shorten the fore-pillar. This downward thrust was probably neutralised 
to a large extent by the tension of the strings acting upon the lower 
portion of the sounding-board ; were it not for this counteracting strain 
the projecting-block would certainly have been forced downwards, and 
thrust from the box. It may also be remarked that the three portions 
of the Harp were not always pegged, or fastened to each other, but were 
occasionally held together by the tension of the strings alone. 

Had these Harps been Irish specimens this countenanced secular music. So these Harps may 
period might be accepted, but it should be recol- have been unstrung for a considerable portion of 
ected that the leaders of the Reformation dis- the time specified. 


It would be interesting to know what place the Harp occupied, 
whether in the ladies' chamber or in the baronial hall ; but upon this point 
Dr. Lynch is silent. That splendidly decorated instruments, such as 
he describes, were intended not only to be heard, but to be seen and 
admired, is certain. In Ireland, either within or without the Pale, 
purely decorative objects probably were not numerous, and it is reason- 
able to suppose that a highly ornamented Harp, or even a less ornate 
instrument, would have its special place in one or other of the apart- 
ments named. The question naturally follows. Was that place the wall ? 
If a Celtic Harp was suspended, it would have been most probably 
suspended by a strap or band, attached for that purpose to the portion 
of the harmonic curve which is nearest to the box. If the side of the 
Harp rested against the wall, only one half of the ornamentation would 
be visible, but if the back of the box was placed against the wall, the 
ornamentation of both sides would be clearly seen. The Celtic Harp 
was not a light instrument, and any band or strap placed round the 
harmonic curve for the purpose of suspension would in time leave 
a mark, but on the two existing specimens there are no such marks. 
Both of these Celtic Harps have ornamented fore-pillars. If the reader 
turns to the illustration of the Dalway Harp (p. 65), and examines it as it 
would require to be examined if suspended, he will find that the animals 
represented on the fore-pillar will then appear as if they were moving 
up the side of a wall, whereas, if the illustration is examined showing 
the Harp as resting upon the back of the box, the figures will all appear 
in natural positions. The animals represented upon the fore-pillar of the 
Trinity College specimen can also be best seen when the instrument is 
placed upon the back of the box (see p. 57), but are unintelligible when 
the instrument is suspended. The wolf-dogs represented upon the 
Castle Otway Harp (p. 73) would appear to rest upon their necks or 
heads were the instrument suspended. So far as the writer is aware, 
were it not for Moore's well-known line : — 

'Now hangs as mute on Tara's wall,'i 
there would be nothing to induce any one to suppose that the 
Celtic Harp was ever suspended. The injury to the decoration of 

1 Without serious injury to Moure's beautiful melody the following line might be substituted: — 

"Now rests as mute within tliose whUs.' 


a cherished object which the friction of a band would certainly have 
caused, and the trouble of removing and replacing the instrument upon 
the wall would have prevented the possessor of one of these beautiful 
Harps from suspending it. Attention has already been directed to 
a most interesting monument in Jerpoint Abbey, where a genuine Irish 
Harp is represented as resting upon the back of the box, and it is the 
writer's opinion that that was the position in which the instrument was 
placed when not in use. That Irish and Highland Harps were splen- 
didly decorated and highly prized is undoubted, and it is natural to 
suppose that they would have special places in the Castle halls or other 
apartments. They may have been placed upon decorated stands or 
benches. No such pedestals are extant, but that there were such is 
extremely probable. A decorated instrument, such as the Dalway Harp, 
would never have been placed upon the floor of the hall, where it would 
be almost certain to be injured by some of the numerous guests or 
retainers Avho occasionally thronged the apartment. 


The Irish harper placed the instrument upon his knees or upon the 
ground, and, resting it either against his left shoulder or against his chest, 
played the treble with the left hand, and the bass with the right, catching 
the strings between the finger-nails (which were purposely trimmed, so 
as to be long and crooked) and the flesh, ^ thus producing a clearer, and 
perhaps purer, tone than could be otherwise obtained. This method of 
playing was gradually abandoned, and we find Dr. Lynch thus describing 
the manner of striking or pulling the strings as practised during the 
early portion of the seventeenth century. "The more expert and accom- 
plished performers (who generally bend over the neck of the Harp, but 
occasionally hold it erect) strike the brass strings with the tips of their 
fingers, not with their nails, contrary to the custom, as some maintained, 
which not long since was common in Ireland. That custom is now, if 
not obsolete, at least adopted by ruder performers only, in their anxiety 
to elicit thereby louder notes from the strings, and make the whole 

' This mauuer of pulling the strings by the Vicentio Galilei in 1581, and by Richard Stauy- 
Irish is uoticed by John Good in 15(36, also by hurst in loS-i. 



house ring with their melody." ^ Hempson, the oldest harper at the 
Belfast meeting in 1792, played with his finger-nails; he was probably 
the last who did so, as all the other harpers who attended that meeting 
pulled the strings with the fleshy part of the fingers alone. 


Of the scale of the Irish Harp at a remote period we have unfor- 
tunately no knowledge, but it was probably tuned to such gapped scales 
as were in use. Pretorius, a writer already mentioned, who published 
in 1619, gives what he calls the scale of the Irish Harp with forty-three 
strings. As this scale is so singular, the writer thinks it desirable to 
reproduce it here" and leave it to those who have made a speciality 
of Irish scale forms to decide whether or not such a scale is likely to 
have been in use at any period. 

;M»J J 





w — * 




r»r»f,irr"rrYYf"l M 



In the chapter contributed by W. Beauford and published by Edward 
Ledwich in The Antiquities of Ii-eland in 1790, there is a statement that the 
Bardic Harp (? sic) from twenty-eight strings was afterwards augmented 
to thirty-three, "beginning in C in the tenor and extending to D in alt, 
which seems to have been the last improvement in the Irish Harp, and in 
which state it still remains." Although Mr. Beauford mentions a Harp 
with thirty-three strings, he probably in the passage quoted gives the 
range of a Harp with thirty strings, and as two of the strings were 
tuned to the same note, a gap would occur in the scale. 

'■ A century later Echlin O'Kane, a most accom- 
plished Irish harper, who, although blind, had 
travelled through England, Scotland, France, 
Spain, and Italy, and performed before the King 
of Spain, the Pope, and the exiled Stewart prince 
at Rome, played in this manner, and prided him- 
self upon having his nails specially trimmed for 
the purpose. This harper was occasionally most 
offensive to his entertainers, and when his insol- 

ence could not be overlooked. Highland gentlemen 
before sending him from their houses ordered his 
nails to be cut quite short, a sufficient punish- 
ment, as he was then unable to play ujjon the 
Harp until they had grown to their proper length. 
— Gunn's Historical Enquiry, note, p. 19 ; Bunting, 
coll. 1840, p. VS. 

^ The writer is indebted to Professor Niecks 
for this scale as it apjiears. 


During the fifty following years, as far as the writer is aware, no 
contrary assertion appeared in print. In 1840 Bunting's third collection 
was published. In this work it is stated that each of the Harps that 
were used at the celebrated meeting at Belfast in 1792 to be hereafter 
referred to had thirty strings. 

These Harps were not large^ — we know that two of them were not 
more than four feet in height ^ — and as they were intended to be carried 
about the country, they were probably made as portable as possible. 
Edward Bunting procured all the information obtainable as to the 
tuning of the instrument as practised by the harpers in 1792; and, 
as he was a musician of some eminence, and able to verify the state- 
ments, they are here reproduced. 





" LeaCh SCeaS," <w hal/mte. 

xsi^^i-ter, 6\ 9 jd m 

is 5/ s8 M ; 

g| 9 JO Jt mnlad^a*- I) m J7 1»19 '," I S3 k si ^ » -^-^ r^^ 




C D E 


* "The Irish Harp had no string for F sharp, between E and G in the bass, probably 
because it had no concord in their scale for that tone, either major or minor ; but this E 
in the bass, called 'Teadlecthae,' or fallen string, in the natural key termed ' Leath Glass,' 
being altered to F natural, a semitone higher when the melody required it, and the sharp 
F's, through the instrument being previously lowered a semitone, the key was then called 
' Teadleaguidhe,' the falling string, or high bass key." 

II II Strings 11 and 12, "Called by the harpers 'The Sisters,' were two strings in unison, 
which were the first tuned to the proper pitch ; they answered to the tenor G, fourth 
string on the violin, and nearly divided the instrument into bass and treble." O'Curry 
states that the name of these strings was " Cobhluighe." — Lectures, vol. iii. p. 256. The 
Sisters are mentioned at a very remote period in the "Yellow Book of Lecan," compiled in 
1391.— Ibid., pp. 250-254. 

t " This is the number of strings indicated by the string-holes on the sound-board of 
the ancient Irish Harp now in Trinity College, Dublin, erroneously called 'Brian 
Boroiralie's Harp,' and was the usual number of strings found on all the Harps at the 
Belfast meeting in 1792." 

1 Petrie, in O'Curry's Lectures, vol. iii. p. 21)5. 

EBTr. Buis-Tiw-G Esq"!: 

•Aii/Ao7- OF THE General Co/ledwn or the Anicicnt Mitislc of IMELANM. 




Tuned for high baja key. 


Tuned in octaves to the top. 

Tuned in octaves to the bottom.t 



I " It will be observed by the musical critic, that only two major keys, viz., G one 
sharp, and C natural, were perfect in their diatonic intervals on the Irish Harp ; but the 
harpers also made use of two ancient diatonic minor keys (neither of them perfect 
according to the modern scale), viz. E one sharp, and A natural. They sometimes made 
use of D natural minor, which was still more imperfect, though some of their airs were 
performed in that key, and were thought extremely agreeable by many persons." 

C sharp, § 

occasionally tuned to F sharp, (a fifth.) 

§ " The harpers said that this single note, C sharp, was sometimes made use of, but 
the editor seldom met with an instance of it." 

As the scale given for the Irish Harp was jjubHshed when the Harp 
was in use, and when many were alive who must have recollected harpei-s 
of an earlier school than those educated by the Belfast society, and as 
this scale was accepted and reprinted by George Farquhar Graham,^ a 
writer not altogether favourable to Bunting, and does not appear to have 
been questioned, it may be accepted as correct. 

Bunting gives the following names and explanations for the different 
kinds of Irish Harps and strings of the Harp : — 

CLARSECH, . . The common harp. 

CINNARD-CRUIT, . The high-headed harp. 

CROM-CRUIT, . . The down-bending harp. 

PVTR\'T'V i Supposed to be the portable harp used by the priests and 

^ -^ I • ■ ■ )^ religious people. 

CRAIFTIN CRUIT, . Craftine's harp (a man noted in Irish legends). 

LUB, . . . .A poetical name for the harp. 

' Introfluction to Songs of Irelaud without Words, J. T. Surenne. 





Lying togetlier/ 

GILLY CAOMLUIGHE, . . Servant of the sisters, 



Second string over the sisters, 

AN TREAS TEAD OS CIONN 1 ^, • , . • , • , 

CAOMLUIGHE, . . . | ilu'd string over the sisters. 


String of the leading sinews,^ 

GILLY TEAD NA FEITHE-0-| g^^^^^^^ ^^ ^^^ j^^^j ^-^^^^^^ 


String of the half-note,' 





i Response to the leading sinews,' 
. Drone bass,* 

Falling string,' 


G G 












1 Called by the harpers " the Sisters," were two 
strings in unison, wliich were first tuned to the 
proper pitch ; they answered to tlie tenor G, 
fourth string on the violin. See note || ||, p. 38. 

- Called by the harpers " the String of 

5 Next the octave to the "Sisters." 

■* Octave above the "Sisters," was next tuned. 

° Being octave below the " String of Melody." 

^ Octave below the " Sisters." 

" Being F natural raised from E natural, a 

M-lo'ly," was tuned next to the " Sisters," being semitone, to answer the melody as occasion 
a fifth above them. required. 




NAMES OF THE STRINGS — continued. 

The string fallen,' 

CRONAN lOCH-DAR-CHANUS, Lowest note.^ 




Highest note,^ 


. Response,' 










When playing at Belfast in 1792, Bunting states that "the harpers 
used a great degree of execution, performing such a variety of difficult and 
novel shakes, and exhibiting such a precision in staccato and legato, as 
astonished and delighted all the musicians present. Struck with the 
extraordinary degree of art exhibited in these varieties of their perform- 
ance, the Editor (Bunting) carefully noted down examples of each, taking 
pains, at the same time, to learn as many as possible of the technical 
terms, by which such points of the execution are described in the Irish 
language." ^ As Bunting not only gives musical examples, but also 
explains the method of stopping the notes as practised by the harpers, 
the writer considers it desirable that they should be here reproduced, as 
they may be found of value by those who may attempt to play upon the 

* The natural tone of the string. 

2 Douhle C in the baas, five notes below the 

^ D in alt, the highest note on the Irish Harp. 

* Applied to all the octaves in the treble. 

^ Applied to all the octaves in the bass, except 
the cronan. 

« Bunting, coll. 1840, p. 19. He also states 
that he frequently visited Hempson, who was 
over 100 years of age, and from him he learned 
his peculiar method of playing and fingering. — 
Ibid., p. 6. 




BRLSIDH, .... A break, .... 

Performed by the thumb and first finger ; the string struck by 
the thumb is stopped by it, the first finger string left sounding. 

i+l + 




LEAGADH ANUAS, . . A falling, .... 

liy the first finger and thumb ; thumb stops the string sounded 
l)y the first finger, and thumb string left sounding. 

LEATH LEAGUIDH, . A half falling, 

By second and third finger ; .string struck by second, stopped by 
first, and string struck by third, stopped by second finger. 


A great stream ascending. 

First, second, and third fingers of the left hand slide along the 
strings, which were either stopped or allowed to sound, as the 
harper pleased ; in general, executed in a most rapid manner. 

SRUITH-MOR, ... A great stream descending, . 

Fingered in the same manner as last by the right hand, performed 
as above. 

SRUITH-BEG, . . Little stream. 

By thumb, first, second, and third fingers of the left hand. 

By third, second, and first fingers, ascending one string each 


.53 !t fe- 

BARLLUITH, . . Activity of the fingers, . 

A continued shake, by second, first, and third fingers alternately. 
The harpers did not finish the shake with a turn, as in the mode 
adopted at present. 

BARLLUITH -BEAL- AN- ^ Activity of finger-ends, striking 
AIRDHE, . ./ upwards, .... 

By second, firai, and third fingers; the string struck by third, 
briskly stopped by second ; first string still sounding. 

SI SI 2 J 3J, 





CASLUITH, . Returning actively, 

By third, first, and second fingers ; the strings stopped instan- 
taneously by each finger when played. 

BARLUITH FOSGALTA, . Activity of finger-tops, . . Qij; 

By second, first, and third fingers ; second finger string stopped 
by first ; first finger string still sounding. 

CUL-AITHRIS, . . . Half shake, . 

By first finger and thumb. 

TRIBUILLEACH or CREA- 1 ^ . , , , 
THADH GOIMHMHEAK,J ^"P'® ^'^'^'^®' 
By second, first, and third fingers, three times in succession. 


By first finger, back and forward, on the same string. 


BULSGAN, .... Swelling out, 
By the first and second fingers ; a third. 

n i)t S 2 S S 

GLASS, ... 

By first and third fingers ; a fourth 

A joining, 

3 3 3 3 



GLASS, . . . .A joining, 
By thumb and third finger ; an octave. 

+ + + 
3 3, 


LAGHAR, .... Spread hand, 

With forked fingers, first and third fingers ; an octave. 


3l31 21 



DOUBLE NOTES, ETC. — continued 

LAGHARLAIR, . . Middle of hand, . . . ( ^ y. ^ P P 1 4 

By first and second fingers ; a third. '"'^ 1^ I — I— 


. Quick locking, 

By thumb, first and third fingers ; a chord of a third, with an U|- jr 


is, +23. 





CENNANCHRUICH, . . Extremity of hand. 

By first, second, and third fingers ; a chord of three notes. 

TAOBHCROBH, . . Side hand, . 

By thumb, second, and third fingers ; a chord of three notes. 

LANCHROBH, . . Full hand, .... ( ^^ 

By thumb, first, second, and third fingers ; a chord of four notes. ^~-^ 


3 3 


MALART PHONOGH, . To reverse the hand, . 
Or crossing the hands, the right taking the place of the left. 




It is worthy of remark that the harpers struck the upper notes of these chords first, 
instead of beginning with the lowest tone, as the moderns do in their Arpeggios. All 
these graces, shakes, double notes, chords, etc., had a different sound and expression, 
according to the method adopted in fingering, and stopping the vibration of the strings. 



TREBHUINNEACH, Trebly rapid, 

CUIGRATH, . . Dirge time, . 
CRUDHCHLESACH, Bold, heroic, 

rirish jig time, used in the old dancing airs, 
- etc., which were performed with great 
[ vivacity and vigour. 

("Lamentations for particular families, with 
\ words. 

/Marching time, also the time of the ancient 
\ melodies in general. 



THE TIME — continued 




. Time of the lessons, 

("Time of the music composed in compliment 
to the deceased patrons of the harpers, 
without words, but by no means slowly 

' Phurt " frequently consisted of two parts ; 
first, Na phurt, introductory, and Malart 
Phonck, changing the position of the 
hands, the right hand playing the treble, 
and the left the bass. 


ALHBHAN-TRIRECH, The three moods. Or species of music. 

GENANTTRAIDHEACHT, Love, . . Music of a graceful and expressive order. 

GOLLTTRAIDHEACHT, Exciting sorrow. Melancholy music. 

SUANTTRAIDHEACHT, Soothing, . Sleepy, composing strains. 

I UTNNFArH / ^^^''y' Joyf"! \Supposed to apply to the Luingis of the 

' " ■ \ music, . j Highlands of Scotland. 





Half note, . 

Great sound. 

Lesser sound, 
Single sound. 

TThe leading, or next note to the " Response " 
A to the "Sisters," forming the proper key 
[ of the harp, being G natural, one sharp. 

(Formed by raising C natural (a semitone 
\ higher) to C sharp. Seldom used. 

/Supposed to be the high bass or flat key. 
\ The key of C. 

One sharp, another name for the key of G. 

The Irish terms given by Bunting were procured from the most 
distinguished of the harpers who met at Belfast in the year 1792. The 
harpers whose authority was chiefly reUed upon were Hempson, O'Neill, 
Higgins, Fanning, and Black,' " who, although educated by different 
masters (through the medium of the Irish language alone), and in 
different parts of the country, exhibited a perfect agreement in all their 
statements, referring to the old traditions of the art as their only 
authority, and professing themselves quite at a loss to explain their 
method of playing by any other terms."'- Bunting was assisted by Dr. 
James M'Donnell, who, on 8th November 1838, wrote as follows : — " As 

' All except Fauuing were bliuJ. 

2 Buuting, coll. 1S40, pp. 19, 20. 


to the character of O'Neill, I found him a man of veracity and integrity, 
etc. I think, therefore, you may rely with the greatest confidence upon 
any information he gave you as to the technical names of the strings, 
and parts of the harp, and names of the different notes, or shakes upon 
the harp. He was as incapable, as he would have been disinclined, to 
have invented these terms," ^ etc. Bunting was not an Irish scholar, and 
he occasionally gives different spellings of the Irish terms ; but that the 
terms were those used by the harpers of the eighteenth century there 
can be no reasonable doubt. However, it is necessary to state that 
O'Curry has pronounced them to be "apocryphal and corrupt," and 
that " all of them, with few exceptions," as O'Curry undertook to 
show, were "mere forgeries, or else the most commonplace and vulgar 
Hibernicisms of English terms." ^ 

Proof of the accuracy of this statement should have been produced 
when the lecture was delivered. Bunting had died nearly twenty years 
previously, and O'Curry passed away shortly after without having 
exposed the so-called frauds. The terms used by the harpers may have 
appeared incorrect to an eminent Irish scholar, but were it not for 
Bunting we should now be deplorably ignorant as to the scale, tuning, 
and fingering of the wire-strung Irish Harp. Bunting, an accomplished 
musician, who studied the method of playing as practised by the 
harpers, could not have mistaken the manner in which the different 
graces, etc., were executed, and by noting them he made it possible 
that this instrument, celebrated for almost countless centuries, may 
again be heard. 


That the Irish Harp was an instrument of great power and 
sweetness cannot be doubted,^ and it is equally certain that it was 

' Bunting, coll. 1840, p. 61. excellent, Walker, Appendix, p. 91. It was also 

2 Lectures vol iii d 302 ^tsei. to some extent in connection with other 

instruments. "Manini, our first violin (at Cam- 

^ The Irish Harp was a usual accompaniment bridge), often spoke of the performance of O'Kane 

of the Mass in the Roman Catholic Churches. with great rapture, assuring me that he could, 

— Bunting, coll. 1840, p. 53. Carolan "frequently although blind, play with great accuracy and fine 

assisted with his voice and his harp at the effect the first treble and bass parts of many of 

elevation of the Host," and composed several Corelli'a Concertos, in concert with other in- 

pieces of church music which were considered struments." — Gunn's Enquiry, note, p. (30. 


an exceptionally difficult instrument to learn, particularly as the pro- 
fession was almost entirely reserved for those of either sex who had 
lost their sight when young. To be a proficient, it was necessary 
for the pupil to begin at the early age of ten or twelve.^ Then, 
after studying under several instructors for six or eight years, the 
young harper commenced playing as a professional. The execution of 
some of the noted performers, who were to be heard at the close 
of the eighteenth century, must have been remarkable. A gentleman, 
who had often heard Mungan play, after stating that he was a most 
admirable performer, thus describes his delicacy of touch : — " Those 
janglings of the strings, so general amongst ordinary practitioners, were 
never heard from the Harp in his hands. But it was in the piano 
passages he chiefly excelled : these came out with an effect indescrib- 
ably charming. His ' whispering notes ' commenced in a degree of piano 
that required the closest approach to the instrument to render them at 
first audible, but increased, by degrees, to the richest chords. In then- 
greatest degree of softness, they resembled rather the sympathetic tones 
than those brought out by the finger." ^ Hempson, who, as already 
stated, played with long, crooked nails,^ had, even at the great age of 
ninety-seven, "an admirable method of playing staccato and legato, in 
which he could run through rapid divisions in an astonishing style. His 
fingers lay over the strings in such a manner that when he struck them 
with one finger, the other was instantly ready to stop the vibration ; so 
the staccato passages were heard in full perfection." The intn'cacy and 
peculiarity of his playing often amazed the writer of the passage just 
quoted, " who perceived in it vestiges of a noble system of practice that 
had existed for many centuries."* Seybold, a celebrated performer on 
the Pedal Harp, after hearing Arthur O'Neill, " declared his admiration 

' Hempsou studied, from twelve to eighteen, devised by the most modern improvers." — Ibid., 

under four instructors. Carolan, who did not p. 73. In another passage he says: — "In his 

commence the Harp until upwards of sixteen, performance, the tinkling of the small wires, 

never, as we are told, excelled as a performer. — under the deep notes of the bass, was particularly 

Bunting, coll. ISiO, p. 72. See Evelyn, p. 23. thrilling." — Ibid., p. 3. Mr. Gunn says: — "I 

- Bunting, coll. 1840, p. 78. have frequently heard it related of O'Kane, the 

^ Ibid., coll. 1840, p. 73, Bunting, when again celebrated Irish harper, in different places where 

referring to Hempson's method of playing, states he had been heard, that he very commonly drew 

that his "staccato and legato passages, double tears from his auditors." — Historical Enquiry, 

slurs, shakes, turns, graces, etc. etc., comprised note, pp. 59, 60. 
as great a range of execution as has ever been * Bunting, coll. 1840, p. 73. 


of his shake upon the Irish Harp, which was performed, apparently, with 
the greatest ease and execution ; admitting that he could not do it 
himself in the same manner on his own instrument, the shake being 
the greatest difficulty upon every species of Harp." 

The harpers taught exactly as they themselves had learned ; ' and 
at the celebrated meeting in 1792, the performers present, although they 
had come from different counties, or provinces, and had been taught by 
separate masters, played the same melodies, " in the same keys, and 
without variation in any essential passage or note." ^ Of the harpers 
themselves, particularly those he had known, or of whom he had pretty 
reliable information. Bunting has left some interesting notes. 

Many of these minstrels belonged to respectable families, and travelled 
from mansion to mansion, some even with retinues, but usually either 
on horseback, with a guide, or on foot, attended by a harp-bearer. 
Families of pure Irish descent were most frequently visited, but the 
harpers were also welcomed and entertained by the descendants of the 
English and Scotch settlers. Thus they travelled over the greater 
portion of Ireland, and had an extensive knowledge of a large number 
of the leading families. 

There can be no doubt, at the close of the eighteenth century the 
Irish Harp was on the decline. No composer for the instrument had 
appeared after the death of Carolan ; the harpers that remained were not 
numerous, and of these the larger number were blind. To encourage 
this class of musician, an Irish gentleman, residing in Copenhagen, con- 
ceived the idea of offering liberal premiums for competition, and, to 
attract and interest the resident gentry, a splendid ball was to be part 
of the entertainment. For this purpose, Mr. James Dungan supplied 

1 Dr. M'Donnell, who had been a pupil of educated by different masters (through the medium 
Arthur O'Neill during the two years he had lived of the Irish language alone), and in different parts 
in his father's house, states that O'Neill "never of the country, they exhibited a perfect agree- 
affeeted to compose or alter any tune, but played ment in all their statements, referring to the old 
it exactly as he had been taught by his master, traditions of their art as their only authority, and 
Hugh O'Neill, for whom he always exjjressed professing themselves quite at a loss to explain 
great veneration." — Bunting, coll. 1S40, p. 61. their method of playing by any other terms." — 

Ibid., coll. 1840, p. 20. Hempson, when asked 

2 Bunting, coll. 1809, p. iii. It was remarked the reason of playing certain parts of a tune, or 
that their instruments were tuned in one uniform lesson, in that style, would reply, " That is the 
system, though the performers on them were way I learned it," or, " I cannot play it in any 
ignorant of the principle. — Ibid.,p.iii. "Although other." — Ibid., coll. 1840, p. 73. 


the means ; and, although he was not able to attend himself, succeeded 
in bringing about the first meeting, which took place in his native town 
of Granard in 1781. Only six harpers attended, but the meeting and 
ball were most successful. The second meeting took place during the 
following year, at which eight harpers appeared. At the third and last 
meeting,^ Mr. Dungan was present, and two new performers attended.- 
The ball, at which at least one thousand persons were present, was most 
brilliant. The numbers of competitors at the second and third meetings, 
notwithstanding the success of the first, show how few performers there 
then were in the country. 

In 1791 some gentlemen belonging to Belfast issued a circular, in 
which it was proposed to assemble the harpers, to whom prizes were 
to be distributed, and that a person well versed in the language and 
a competent musician, to transcribe and arrange the most beautiful 
melodies, should attend. The meeting took place at Belfast on the 
11th, 12th, and 13th of July 1792. The following are the names 
and ages of the ten harpers who were present : — Denis Hempson (blind), 
from the county of Derry, aged 97. Charles Byrne, from the county of 
Leitrim, aged 80. Daniel Black (blind), from the county of Derry, aged 
75. Arthur O'Neill (blind), from the county of Tyrone, aged 58." 
Charles Fanning, from the county of Cavan, aged 56. Hugh Higgins 
(blind), from the county of Mayo, aged 55. Rose Mooney (blind), from 
the county of Meath, aged 52. Patrick Quin (blind), from the county 
of Armagh, aged 47- James Duncan, from the county of Down, 
aged 45, and William Carr, from the county of Armagh, aged 15. 
The tickets for admission to the three performances were 10s. 6d. each.^ 

' There is a list of the prizes advertised in the Bacach buidhe na leimne, or The Lame Yellow- 
Dublin Evening Post of .July 1784; and it is Beggar. 

stated that a similar advertisement appeared iu Car a Ueann dilis, or Black-headed Deary. 

July 17S5 (Walkers Irish Bards, note, p. 98). Cardan's Cap. 

According to Bunting a meeting did not take Carolan's Concerto, 

place during the last-mentioned year. Carolan's Devotion. 

- Bunting. According to the Belfast News Carrick an evenish, or Pleasant Rooks. 

Letter he was 55. Cathal Mhac Aodha, or Charles M'Huyli. 

2 The following list of the melodies played Catherine Tyrrell, 

by the harpers upon this memorable occasion is C'auher vac Aough. 

taken from Bunting, coll. 1840, the Belfast News Cionn Dhu Dielinh. 

Letter of July 10-13, 1792, and the Northern Star, CoUough an Tinnic, or The Sleeping Fox. 

Belfast, July 14-18, 1792. Those iu italics (from Colonel 0'H.ira. 

the Belfast papers) if given by Bunting appear Cooiin. 

under different headings : — Cooiin Doon. 



Mr. Edward Bunting was the musician selected to attend, and the 
instructions he received were, as he states himself, exact. He was 
" cautioned against adding a single note to old melodies, which would 
seem to have passed, in their present state, through long succession of 
ages." ^ The meeting was most successful, and all the harpers were 
handsomely paid and entertained." 

These men, Avho had studied under different instructors, who had 
no other way of acquiring knowledge except from those of a previous 
age, had received from their masters the beautiful melodies of their 
country untainted, and the methods of playing upon the national 
instrument, as practised by their instructors, and, presumably, by many 
previous generations of harpers. There being no reason to doubt that 
they were most, if not all, highly accomplished performers,^ it is 
surprising to find them referred to in a lecture delivered some seventy 
years later as " the degenerate body of harpers, who held their last 
synod in Belfast."^ It is to be regretted that Professor O'Curry, by 
thus referring to the harpers who had appeared at the assembly, should 
have marred his exceptionally able lectures on Irish Musical Instruments. 

Denis Daly. 

Doctor Hart. 

Eibhlin a Ruin, or Ellen a Eoon. 

Fanny Power, or Mrs. Freucli. 

Grace Nugent. 

Graga-nish, or Love in Secret. 

Green Woods of Truagh. 


Lady Blaney. 

Lady Iveagh. 

Lady Letitia Burke. 

Mabel Kelly. 

Madam Cole. 

Maiilin bheag aoibhinn, or Soft Mild Morning. 

Afitm Feniiing. 

Miss Moore, or Tlie Hawli of Ballyshannon. 

Molly Bheag 0, or Little Molly O. 

Morning Star. 

Mrs. Crofton. 

Mrs. Judge. 

Mrs. Maxwell. 

Nancy Cooper. 


Patrick's Day. 

Pearla an vroley vaan. 

Plnnlsty Reily, 

Planxty Kingsland. 

Pleararca na Ruarc, or O'Rourke's Feast. 

Rose Dillon. 

Scara na Gumbanagh, or The Parting of Friends. 

Sheela na Conallon. 

Sir Charles Coote. 

Sir Festus a Burke. 

Slieve Gallen. 

The Dawning of the Day. 

The Fairy Queen. 

The Humours of Whisky. 

The old Truagha. 

The Receipt for Drinking Whisky. 

The Rocks of Pleasure. 

Thomas a Burke. 

Tiarna Mayo, or Lord Mayo. 

Ull a condo, wo, or The County of Leitrim. 

1 Bunting, coll. 1S09, p. 3. 

- At the Musical Loan Exhibition, Dublin, 
1899, Exhibits Nos. 17, 29, 3(1, 37, 43, and 44 
related to this meeting. 

^ Indifferent or bad performers would scared}- 
have competed for prizes. 

^ O'Curry's Lectures, vol. iii. p. 302. If the 
reader turns to p. 275, same volume, he will 
find O'Curry referring to one of the "degenerate 
body " as "the celebrated Arthur O'Neill." 


Had he lived to see his lectures through the press, the passage might 
perhaps have been withdrawn. As it is, the reader may be curious 
to know what oppoi-tunity O'Curry had of judging of their merits, and 
how far he was justified in the use of such language. O'Curry was born 
in 1796, four years after the Belfast meeting ; O'Curry was thirteen in 
1809, when only two of the harpers were alive; O'Curry was twenty 
in 1816, during which year the last of the harpers died. So, even if 
O'Curry had been, when extremely young, a musical genius and critic, 
he is not likely to have had an opportunity of forming an opinion, 
certainly not of comparing the performance of previous generations of 
harpers with that of the so-called " degenerate body " which met four 
years before he was born. If the reader turns to Bunting, coll. 1840, 
he will find, in p. 3,' enough to show that O'Curry was ungenerous 
and unjust : the power of producing new and original melodies may- 
have died with Stirling,^ but the power of rendering those already 
created, in a finished and admirable style, was still alive in 1792. 

Perhaps the unsettled state of the country may have prevented 
any further meetings, but in 1807 the Belfast Harp Society was 
formed.^ This society, which supplied board and lodging to a number 
of boys who had lost their sight — whose ages ranged from ten upwards — 
and a competent teacher, Arthur O'Neill, to instruct them, came to an 
end in 1813 from want of funds. 

In 1819 a new society was instituted by the liberality of some 
noblemen and gentlemen in India. It was then discovered that there 
were no harpers living who had not been instructed by Arthur O'Neill, 

' After the ten harpers who had appeared at of that tender and impressive instrument, once 

Belfast had passed away, Bunting states "that so dear to Irish enthusiasm, is as vividly rapid as 

the least able of them had not left his like it is obviously unimpeded by any effort of national 

behind" (coll. 1S40, p. 3), but he allows that pride or national affection. "—The Lay of an Irish 

Rainey, a pupil of O'Neill, also dead, had been a Harp, note, p. 2. 

very good harper (ibid., p. 66). Miss Owenson - Parson Stirling of Lurgan composed a number 

(Lady Morgan), who was a performer, visited the of capital airs, which he played upon the Bagpipes, 

western part of Connaught in 1805. Concerning They were also played upon the Harp by Catherine 

this expedition she writes as follows: — "The Martin. — Bunting, coll. 1840, p. SI. 
hope I had long cherished of hearing the Irish =• In 1809 an attempt was made to organise 

Harp played in perfection was not only far from a Harp .Society in Dublin, jirincipally by .John 

being realised, but infinitely disapi)ointed. That Bernard Trotter. Quin was the instructor, and 

encouragement so nutritive to genius, so indis- played in public at a Commemoration of Carolan 

pensably necessary to perseverance, no longer to promote the object. The society soon collapsed 

stimulates the Irish bard to excellence, nor for want of funds.— Petrie, in O'Curry, vol. iii. 

rewards him when it is attained ; and the decline p. 294. Bunting, coll. 1840, p. 65. 



the master of the original school. Edward MacBride, who was the first 
teacher, remained until 1822. Valentine Rainey or Reanney/ a nephew 
of the poet Burns, succeeded him in 1823, and continued master of the 
school until his death in 1837. James Jackson was appointed teacher in 
1838.^ The society, even then in a declining state — for after August 1839 
only two boys were receiving instruction — soon afterwards came to an 
end.^ The harpers, who, some forty years since, were to be heard in 
the streets of Dublin, were probably instructed by the Belfast Society : * 
they must all have passed away, as there is now not a performer on 
the instrument to be found." 

" Mute ! mute the Harp ! and lost the magic art 
Which roused to rapture each Milesian heart ! 
In cold and rust the lifeless strings decay, 
And all their soul of song has died away." 

1 MacBride and Reanney were two of tlie four 
harpers who performed before George iv. on the 
occasion of his dining at the Mansion House, 
Dublin, August 1821. The other two harpers 
were James MacMouagal and John MacLoghliu. 
The last mentioned, one of the Belfast School, 
was seated before O'Connell upon the triumphal car 
on which the " Liberator " was drawn through the 
streets of Dublin after the passing of the Emanci- 
pation Act in 1829. The harp upon which he jilayed 
upon that occasion was afterwards iu the possession 
of Dr. Petrie. A copy of the programme of music 
performed by these four harpers is in the posses- 
sion of E. W. Hennell, Esq., who has kindly 
allowed the writer to have it reproduced in 

- Ulster Journal of Archseology, vol. vii. part i., 
Bunting, coll. 1840. Rainey was almost totally 

blind and .Jackson slightly so. — Communicated 
by Mr. T. Smyth. 

3 At the Musical Loan Exhibition, Dublin 1899, 
Exhibits Nos. 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, and 32 
related to the first and second Belfast Harp 
Societies. One of the Harps supplied to the 
Belfast Society, between 1822 and 1830, by 
Egan of Dublin, is in the writer's possession. 
Upon the right-hand side of the sounding-board 
are deeply scratched letters and marks, indicat- 
ing the notes to which the strings were tuned 
— perhaps to be fingered by a blind boy, as an 
early lesson, while the fingers of his left hand 
jiulled the string.s. These marks may be seen 
upon the illustration — see frontispiece. If these 
letters are correct, the following is the tuning 
adopted by Rainey for this unusually large instru- 
ment. There are twenty-one strings with letters ; 
the first string, iu the treble, is marked B. 




-* • SCAI 

Jrr. ii rnm i ui ' H-rr^^f fc 


' O'Curry in his lectures refers, in the following 
words, to the want of kindly encouragement, or even 
toleration, these last representatives of the ancient 
harpers received from the Irish of his day : " Why 
have we banished to contempt, to poverty, and 
to the pauper's grave, the ever good-humoured 
and often talented, though in their neglected 

state but too ill-instructed, vrandering profes.sors 
of this, the proudest remnant of our ancient 
inheritance ? " — Vol. iii. p. 406. 

" In 1897, when the first Feis Cevil was about 
to take place, the writer, understanding that a 
prize had been offered for the best performance 
upon the wire-strung harji, requested that a seat 







1 AND OTHERS. • »^ 

I eminent in IL^iit Coinirosittons, |J[ ■ 

a ^^ 

eminent in 2t))rtc Coinirosittons, 



Iking gkokge the fourth, 







Him'- I 


•/'i^i"^ ■'-^^ ,->»->---- /^-ii^ • »' ^'^^^-^^ '-^-S-X!/^, 


■■■■■■■" "'-■■"•'S|i^ ' . '■w';?^«B»j;^?iw;|-"'"' I...... I '... ..... 

— ?-|-^ 


-^ h 



I r 




our King. 


3;o ii'lu-4(U)3 'Pia ,itt Tl\% 
lu Vv?iU^ p^-ir-tiuij .... 

6-||iin 30 bjUiC Ivcland for 

Viielij . • .S'likiigh. 

'^Odjui ni Culpit^' A/fcy Mac Calpln. 

Clipaii V-iO) jOOc-V* • Bumper 'S(/>iire Jones. 

6lMnO|ia |iO|iiiMi) Eleonora Roan. 

UlaCai) t>u'JO Uluciin ilovo. 

PU\)CY~U}% Poju|l ....... PUnixtA) la Peer. 

JH^iC) tro C|iO|6e '^vJJuUlj . . . Mari/, fhif love! 

%\\AX) ^eal wo c\\o\x>e . . ., . . 7V </<'«'• /"i'^ o/" w?v //"<?«?•'. 

pUif)CK~-t(j trie )!3)|i Plinixlii Mac Giiire. 

rtocruifi lUpc .V . . Doctor Hart. 

pUxnoVvTuij CciKOlJu|t ..... Pluiixhj Coumr. 

^Jiju'io jun piOJ* • . . , ^^'^■<' '« ^wc^ _ • 

pUi>cvcaij Uiuipc O'liorke\ nohlc,fare. 

'^OaiV'lU-aV CllOpCOt) i . . . ,,Mrx. Craftoa. 

Tif-llM in reuiLiij . Celia ^Ktlhi. 

Teuimr Cpopcon. ....... I'aiohin a Coni'erfo. 

Cailinoeuvouipce-AifiuiliM'mbO Htc ujj able fair MaiiL 

^Xo'^<^^\\e pub S'v Jack. 

C^cuihi) reijiMll . A'/V/y 7>Tf//. 

pUtK}T*nt ti'ic Oeatiiiio-|iu^6 licHnj Mac Dermol Roe. 
pl^ncV'Caij TcnrtOl) Plaaxli) Johnston: 

Plaiixt}) Pluuhef. 
l-'iaa.vlj/ Reijiioltls. 

pUi(Kvra)^ pi-ainre<it) . . 
pUticyraij; tiiic ^(u'lnoiU . 
j;4tiuij eo:j;4in Ga>ioue.^- 

Ceun t>uf? t)|i)Of ....;... Vtaini (Juhh dUisli. 

Z\%eA\\\)<x \hji\%co% ...... 

Cu (ls:e ^Liy* ^n rjitiac . . 
punKfcuij; l*c4^0(iD .... 

R.e4lr^"m tr4)6n)e. ...... Tlh- Mamin^ Star. 

pUu)r|traj5 ui RulU^a)^ .. ll'viun RcHiy. 

C^X^X) 41) crusJjT) ........ 'I'lic luHstihg of the rope. 

Lord Mayo. 

'I lie ^rcen IVoods of, Tr 

Caro/aii's Receipt, 






The kindly and patriotic effort of the friends in India, and the 
noblemen and gentlemen of Belfast and the neighbourhood, to keep 
alive the Irish Harp, and provide a means of living for some of those 
who had unfortunately been deprived of sight, for many reasons did 
not succeed. The blind harper had been an institution, as it were, 
for a lengthened period ; so the school was for the instruction of 
the blind. But a blind child laboured under great disadvantages : 
it did not follow, because he had been deprived of sight, that he had 
any of the necessary qualifications for the calling for which he was 
selected. The want of sight, and the want of suitable music, even 
if the performer could see and read, was sufficient to imperil the 
undertaking. The blind boys had only one teacher to study under ! 
What a change ! A few years previously, amongst O'Curry's " de- 
generate body," was one who had acquired over one hundred of 
Carolan's compositions,' and, no doubt, a large number of ancient 
melodies besides. To study under several such men was to acquire 
a large portion of the unwritten music of Ireland, but O'Curry's 
" degenerate body " had passed away, carrying to the unknown land 
a wealth of melody ; and the blind boys could only acquire what 
Rainey and his successor could impart. Dr. Petrie, who writes in the 
kindest manner of the society and its extinction, notices several 
reasons for the failure, but to the want of suitable music he scarcely 
gives sufficient prominence. Had Bunting carried out to the letter 
the instructions he received in 1792, and continued to note and collect 
in the same manner, for his own purposes, he could have produced a 
work with all the melodies in the same keys, and exactly as he had 
heard them performed by the harpers. He did not do so, but published 
the melodies for a keyed insti'ument, and, by changing the keys and 
adding notes, which, even if the melodies were transposed, could not be 

from which he could st-e the tiiigeriug of the but it has long cUsa])peared, and the Scotch people 
performers should be reserved The reply was lament its loss ; but such remains of their ancient 
that, after diligent inquiry, the Committee were minstrelsy as they possess, they, like true patriots, 
forced to come to the conclusion that there was cultivate with enthusiasm, and it will be long 
not a performer living. before Scotland desertM the bagpijies for any 
In 1S45 the Rev. Thonias Price, an enthusiastic foreign instrument, however melodious." — Liter- 
admirer of the Welsh Triple Harp, while referring ary Remains, vol. ii., p. 304. 
to the near extinction of the Irish Harp, wrote as 
follows: — "In Scotland the Harp once existed; ' Hunting, coll. IS-tO, ji. 71. 


produced upon the Harp, rendered the greater portion of his life- 
work useless for that insti'ument. The writer does not wish to refer 
in an unkind manner to Bunting : we owe him much, but he lived in 
what may be called an improving age ; he had a keyed instrument 
before him, and the temptation to introduce impossible Harp notes 
was irresistible: so he "improved or polished" the Harp melodies, 
and perhaps made them more acceptable to the public of the day. 
Bunting did not kill the Irish Harp, but he could have made it possible 
for it to live.' He would, no doubt, have done so, in fact would have 
been compelled to do so, had there been in Ireland, as there is in 
Scotland, a strong Celtic feeling throughout the country." It was 
in Ulster, not in Munster or Connaught, that an effort was made 
to keep the national instrument alive. Had there been that strong 
Celtic feeling, would Bunting's work have been accepted ? Would he 
not have been told to " treat as he pleased such tunes as he had 
received from ladies and gentlemen, pipers, fiddlers, and others, but to 
produce the Harp music as he had heard it played " ? 

Now that the Harp is lost, an effort has been made to restore the 
Irish melodies to their original purity,' an effort which, it is to be hoped, 
will meet with the encouragement it so well deserves. If we can 
no longer hear the wire-strung Irish Harp, let us at least have the 
beautiful Harp music, as it was played, or could have been played, upon 
the national instrument. If we cannot drink at the fountain-head, let 
us endeavour to have the stream, where it is polluted, filtered and 
cleansed from its impurities. 

' In Buuting's early volumes the individuals immeasurably unlike the Scotch ! There is 

from whom he obtained the melodies are not scarcely in all Scotland, from the thrifty and 

mentioned, but in collection 1840 there are well-taught labourer and mechanic up to the 

avowedly sixty-six melodies which were noted lordliest duke, a man in whose house volumes of the 

from twelve harpers. Of these sixty-six melodies, noble music of his native country, as well as every 

only a comparatively small number, at least as scrap of national poetry or song, both in Gaelic 

Bunting published them, could have been pl.iyed and English, that from time to time issues from 

upon the instriiment. the press, may not be found." — Lectures, vol. iii. 

- O'Curry, when noticing the scant appreciation p. 406. 
shown by his countrymen for the beautiful music 

of Ireland, as shown by Dr. Petrie being com- ^ See The Distinctive Characteristics of Ancient 

pelled to abandon (owing to want of support) Irish Melody, a lecture : Ponsonby, Dublin ; also, 

the continuance of the publication of his great Nine Irish Melodies for the Harp or Piano, true 

collection of Irish Airs, concludes with the follow- to their Scales, both by James C. Culwick. 

ins sentences : " How unlike the English! How Mus.D. 


Fia.te I 




The eai'liest specimen of the wire-strung Harp to be found in Ireland 
is undoubtedly that preserved in Trinity College, Dublin. The box of 
this instrument is, as is usual, cut out of a solid block, and is stated 
to be of black sallow.' The harmonic curve is probably of the same 
material, but the fore-pillar is evidently of a closer and harder wood.^ 

It is not the writer's intention to repeat the tradition relating to this 
important instrument, as those intei'ested will find it fully noticed in 
Bunting's Ancient Irish Music, coll. 1840, O'Curry's Lectures, vol. iii., and 
Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, vol. 1880-81, p. 23. 
By the kind permission of the Rev. Thomas K. Abbott, Senior Fellow and 
Librarian of Trinity College, the writer has had a series of photographs 
specially taken for the purpose of illustrating this work; and subsequently, 
when he considered it necessary to examine and trace the Celtic orna- 
mentation, permission was readily granted for that purpose. 

If the reader examines the illustrations and diagrams which show the 
ornamentation on the harmonic curve and fore-pillar, the following state- 
ments will be more clearly understood. The left side ^ of the harmonic 
curve was decorated in a series of lines, curves, and circles (Fig. i.), all 

of which were apparently drawn by a hot iron. The charring was not 
deep, and the work was carefully executed. Over the different circles, 
and in the centre of the spaces between the two parallel lines which end 
in curves, there were most probably silver bosses, four of which may be 
seen, and it should be noticed that where x occurs upon the upper portion, 
one of the eight circles is not complete. The right side of the harmonic 
curve, the wi'iter believes, was decorated in a similar manner, but 

' Petrie says red sallow. — Bunting, coll. 1840, to be of that wood, 
p. 43; Ibid., coll. 1809, note, p. 24. ^ By the left side is meant the side which 

- According to Petrie the pillar is of oak — would be nearest to the left arm of a performer 

Bunting, coll. 1840, p. 43 — but it does not appear when the instrument is in use. 


no portion of the burnt lines can now be seen. This side was 
enriched by silver bosses in the centres of the panels and upon the circles, 
one of which remains, and also by a row of nineteen silver knobs 
underneath the metal band, through which the tuning-pegs pass (Fig. ii.). 
The reader may remark that what has been noticed as occurring upon 
the left side, that is, the appearance of a semicircle, is also found 
upon this side where the x occurs upon the diagram. It appears that 
the upper portion of the harmonic curve where these semicircles occur 
has been injured or removed, which accounts for the non-appearance of 
a complete circle upon each side.' When the harmonic curve rises from 
the box, the upper portion is rounded, then slightly flattened. This 
flattening diminishes and ends above the half circles before mentioned, 
from which to the termination at the bass it is pointed. The end of 
the harmonic curve being now covered by a silver enrichment, it cannot 
be stated whether underneath the metal any of the original ornamenta- 
tion is preserved or not. The metal bands through which the tuning-pegs 
pass form single curves, and are ornamented both above and below the 
pegs by bands or ribbons on which diagonal lines are engraved. Under- 
neath the harmonic curve there is a boldly executed moulding (Plate, 
Nos. 5 and 6). Both the sounding-board and sides of the box are 
ornamented by burnt lines, curves, and circles. Here the ornamenta- 
tion does not appear to have been geometrically accurate, but the 
designs are most elaborate and varied (Plate, Nos. 1, 2, and 3). It may 
be concluded that the sounding-board was flat, as it still is at the lower 
extremity ; the rise which is now seen in the centre has been caused by 
the tension of the strings. The raised string band terminates at the upper 
extremity and upon either side in semicircular curves. The holes for the 
strings are protected by metal "shoes of the strings," most of which are 
wrought and of good form and in high relief, but are irregularly placed 
(see p. 29). At present the two lowest holes in the string band are modern, 
the last being ^ of an inch lower than it should be. The box and harmonic 
curve of this Harp are undoubtedly of great antiquity. The fore-pillar 
is curved ; the terminations of the T formation, like those on the Queen 
Mary Harp, resemble heads of reptiles or fishes. What may be termed 
eyes, although prominent, are not so distinctly prominent as those upon the 

1 This portion of the liannouic curve has been injudiciously repaired. 



3 O o 

2. Right side of box. 

From gelatine tracings and rubbings. 
1. Sounding-board. 

3. Left side of box. 

4. Incised ornament, inner curve of fore-pillar. 

5. Moulding under harmonic curve. 6. Section. 



" Queen Mary " Harp, but the turned-up lips or snouts are even more so. 
This description of the fore-arm is sufficient for the present. If it is the 
fore-arm originally supplied, it was probably without decoration. The 
Harp when it left the maker's and decorator's hands must have been 
a most beautiful instrument. 

Subsequent to, and long after, its construction, this harp passed 
through the hands of a decorator by whom all, or a large portion of, the 
ornamentation of the fore-pillar was executed. The inner curve was 
finely ornamented, the Celtic design (Plate, No. 4) being deeply incised, 
and the surface at regular intervals enriched by staining or burning. 
Upon the upper portion of the left side, above the T formation, there are 
two animals, probably wolf-dogs, both with heads turned backwards ; 
the tail of that to the right passes between its legs and body (Fig. in.). 
Upon the lower portion of this side the heads, legs, and clawed feet of two 
creatures, dogs or wolves, may be seen (Fig. iv.). 

Fig, IV. 

Fig. III. 

Fig. VI. 

Fig. v. 

Upon the upper portion of the right side, above the T formation, two 
creatures are represented. One a lion with an enormously bushy tail is 
shown as seizing a reptile by the claws of its forefeet. The reptile's 
head is turned upwards, and its snakelike tail is curled over the left 
hind leg of the lion (Fig. v.). Upon the lower portion of this side are two 
wild boars or hogs sitting upon their haunches face to face (Fig. vi.).^ 
These grotesque animals are represented by incised lines, also by 
engraved lines and dots, and are surrounded by oval lines, almost circles, 
which are also incised. 

Much of the fore-pillar was profusely decorated in interlaced and 
other patterns of great beauty. It would appear that this ornamenta- 
tion was an afterthought ; none of it is in relief, the greater portion of 

1 The four drawings are from gelatine tracings. harp rests upon the back of the box. 
The animals are shown as they appear when the 




the patterns are shown by incised lines, and the remainder by what may 
perhaps be termed engraving upon wood. The artist, in executing this 
work, carefully avoided the eyes of the reptiles or fishes before noticed. 

The silver enrichment which covers the termination of the harmonic 
curve probably belongs to this period. It is a singularly fine piece of 
metal-work, and deserves to be specially noticed. The front is in the 
form of a parallelogram surmounted by a triangle. Within this triangle 
there is a setting which still contains a crystal cabochon cut ; beneath 

this crystal and within the parallelogram 
there is an oval setting from which the 
stone has been lost or removed. At each 
of the three angles there are bosses in 
the form of blackberries, and where the 
two settings meet, and at either side, 
are three similar bosses with a plain boss 
in the centre of each (Fig. vii.). The 
battlemented border and sides are well 
executed (Fig. vni.). 

At a later pei'iod this Harp passed 
through the hands of another decorator, 
and his work can be easily detected. On 
the left side of the harmonic curve, where 
the silver bosses had fallen ofi" or been 
removed, incised ornamentation will be 
found. The I. H. C. > and all the other 
incised ornamentation was then executed. 
Examining the right side, we find the 
whole of the ornamentation incised. Pro- 
bably at the same time a considerable 
portion of the incised ornamentation was 
added to the sides of the fore-pillar.'^ 
In front of the fore-pillar, and in the centre of the T formation, 
there is a rudely made cavity which was probably intended to contain 

> This 13 O'Curry's reading. — Lectures, vol. iii. side is failed with some white composition. It 
p. 276. is the writer's opinion that this is some of the 

plaster that adhered when the cast, to be here- 
2 Much of the incised ornament on the right after referred to, was taken. 










a setting or metal enrichment. The centre of the reptile's head at 
the lower end is also hollowed out. These cavities were certainly 
made after the ornamentation of the fore-pillar was completed. The 
small silver badge with the right hand which has so curious a history ' 
was attached by nails to the centre of the reptile's head at the upper 
end after the ornamentation had been completed. The redecorators 
were content to apply their art to the harmonic curve and the fore- 
pillar. The box was left intact. 

Mr. Edward Bunting employed an artist to make three drawings of 
the Harp upon a fairly large scale, and these were engraved for the third 
collection of his Ancient Music of Ireland, 1840. Bunting's illustrator 
must have had ample opportunity of studyuig the Harp ; in fact, the 
drawings must have cost much time and labour ; and it would be 
interesting if they could be traced, as the engravings are not as 
accurate as could be wished. The ornamentation on the box had at 
this period not been tampered with, and there is no reason to suppose 
that Bunting's artist tampered with it in any way. 

Some time after Bunting's artist had completed his drawings, the 
Harp being in a dilapidated state, it was considered desirable to have 
it repaired. The person employed was unaware that upon some speci- 
mens, when the fore-pillars are considerably curved, the direct tension 
of the strings has drawn the harmonic curves downwards and slightly 
shortened the fore-pillars.- He was also unaware of the object of the 
T formation ; so he lengthened the lower portion of the fore-pillar some 
four inches,^ and destroyed the symmetry of the Harp (Figs. ix. and x.) 

Were the lengthening of the fore-pillar the only injury done to 
the Harp, it would be of little consequence ; such injury could be 
rectified. But unfortunately that is not so, and it is the writer's 
duty to draw attention to the fact that the Celtic ornamentation of 

■ Thi3 badge, which is stated to be bronze other suitable place, 
covered with silver, is illustrated in the Journal, .> ^j^j^ ^j,j ^^ j^^^^, ^^ j,,^^,^ occurred upon the 

Historical and Archaeological Association of Ire- Lament, the "Queen Mary," and the Kildare 

land, vol. IS-U-TS, j. 498 ; Journal of Royal ^^^^^^ ^,^g exceptions are the Castle Ffogerty 

Society of Antiquaries, Ireland, vol. 1S90, p. 282, ^^^^ ^^^^j^ q^^^^ ^^^^^^^ ^^^^-^^ ^ugt ^ave 

where its supposed discovery with chain armour ^^^^u^Hy gt„„g fore-pillars. 
in the Phcenix Park and its subsequent restora- 
tion are related. If this ancient badge originally ^ Had the fore-pillar been constructed 

belonged to the Harp it was probably attached to as it now is, it would undoubtedly have broken 

the end of the harmonic curve, there being no at the lower end. 



the box has been extensively tampered with. Of this there can be 
no question: the false lines, etc., can be detected by viewing the 
right side of the sounding-board obliquely from the lower end. When 
so examined, slightly indented lines may be seen. These are the true 


The Harp in its present distorted state. The measurements are given in inches. 


Probable form of the Harp before it passed through the hands of the restorers. 

lines, and when these lines do not correspond with others, the latter 
have been painted and are false. Again, on the right-hand side of 
the sounding-board a portion of the angle of the box has been worn 
away by the friction of the arm or wrist ; here the ornamentation has 


been painted. The person who so tampered with the instrument was 
apparently dissatisfied at not finding the ornamentation geometrically 
accurate, and so had the audacity not only to correct the work of 
the original artist, but to add what pleased himself to the original 
design.' When making the tracings from which the illustration has 
been taken, the writer laboured under serious difficulties, so he cannot 
be certain that all the lines shown on the illustration are genuine, 
or that no genuine lines have been omitted.^ So seriously has the 
ornamentation been tampered with, that it would now require a long and 
careful examination of the ornamentation in varied light, with every 
possible convenience, before the whole of the genuine lines could be traced. 

The left side of the sounding-board is much decayed, and has been 
badly repaired." Upon the upper portion there is scarcely a vestige of 
decoration, although there can be no doubt the ornamentation is mainly 
hid by the dirt of ages. The design which is surrounded by the circle 
is distinctly different from that within the corresponding circle upon the 
right side. The lower portion of this side of the sounding-board has 
been scraped or cleaned, and it is diiEcult to say whether or not it has 
been tampered with to any great extent. 

There are four sound-holes : the two lower ones are not at equal 
distances from the lower extremity of the box. The edges of these 
sound-holes are more or less decayed. It has been supposed that they 
had had metal enrichments ; one small nail may certainly be seen, but, 
in the absence of a series of nail holes, the writer does not consider 
that sufficient evidence of any such ornamentation.* 

The ornamentation upon the right side of the box has been tampered 
with to a large extent. Examining the left side of the box, the 
ornamentation will be found to be as when it left the hands of the 
original decorator. 

' The lines, curves, and circles, if painted in shavings to the back of the sounding-board, dove- 
water-colour, as they apparently have been, could tailed pieces vifei-e let into the decayed wood, and 
probably not be removed, putty used without stint, and in the coarsest and 

^ That portion of the ornamentation surrounding clumsiest manner, 
the lower sound-hole has been drawn and redrawn, * Dr. Lynch informs us that it was through the 

and so seriously tampered with, that to a large sound-holes the wooden pegs when attached to the 

extent the writer had to omit it. It is, however, strings were passed. The string-holes are large, 

given by Bunting, coll. 1840. but not sufficiently large to admit of pegs being 

^ The state of this portion of the Harp is most jiassed through them ; so, were the sound-holes 

dejilorable. lu place of glueing linen bauds or covered, the harp could not easily b'e restrung. 


There are thirty peg-holes. Most of the pegs are in their places 
and are ornamented. The ends of the metal bands through which these 
pegs pass are under the silver enrichment, but from careful examination 
it is evident that these bands extend sufficiently to allow of the thirtieth 
tuning-peg passing through the ends only. If the ornamented ribbons 
which appear on both bands above and below the tuning-pegs are also 
carried round the bass terminations, the Harp, as in the case of the 
Queen Mary Harp, had probably originally twenty-nine strings, and the 
thirtieth tuning-peg is an addition ; but in consequence of the decay of 
the lower portion of the raised string band, and the ends of the bands 
being now covered, no positive statement as to the original number of 
strings can be made. 

As the Harp is at present, the shortest string is 3 inches. Originally, 
the shortest string was probably 2f inches. As the Harp is at present, 
the longest string is 27|- inches. Originally, the longest string was 
probably 25f inches. 

The thickness of the sounding-board is rather less than \ of an inch. 
The thickness of the sides of the box near the lower end, and where the 
board at the back is fastened to them, is f of an inch, but the sides 
diminish in thickness, and become much thinner before the sounding- 
board is reached. The greatest breadth of the T formation is 2| inches. 
For other measurements of the Harp in its present state, the reader 
must examine Fig. ix. 

This Harp, which was last played upon through the streets of Limerick 
in 1760 by a celebrated harper, Arthur O'Neill,^ although badly restored 
and deplorably tampered with, must always be an object of the deepest 
interest, not only to those of our own time, but to future generations. 

Besides the illustrations in Bunting's Irish Music already noticed, 
engravings have appeared in Walker's Irish Bards, the Encyclopaedia 
Britannica, Encyclopaedia Londinensis, Rees' Encyclopaedia, Camden's 
Britannia, ed. 1806,^ Ledwich's Antiquities of Ireland, Dublin Penny 
Journal,^ the Book of the Club of the True Highlanders, and other works, 
but they are of scarcely any value or interest. That which appears in 
Mr. and Mrs. S. C. Hall's Ireland, vol. ii. p. 410, is specially incorrect. 

1 Bunting, coll. 1840, p. 4. ^ Vol. i. p. 48. Reversed, 

2 This engraving is reversed. 





If the so-called casts which may be seen in our Museums are examined, 
the ornamentation upon the box will be found to be incised. The orna- 
mentation upon both sides of the sounding-board is the same, but upon the 
Harp the ornamentation upon the sides of the sounding-board is to some 
extent different. The ornamentation upon the right and left sides of the 
box is upon the cast the same, that is, the ornamentation of the right side 
of the box of the Harp, which the writer has already stated has been 
painted over, has been reproduced upon both sides of the cast, although the 
ornamentation upon the left side of the Harp is different.' Upon one of 
these so-called casts the end of the box is covered with spurious orna- 
mentation ; the absurd addition to the fore-pillar and the sham projecting- 
block are also covered with spurious ornamentation. The cavities upon 
the front of the fore-pillars are filled up and covered with spurious 
ornamentation; and the semicircles marked x (Figs. i. and ii.), which 
occur upon either side of the harmonic curve, are replaced by small 
circles ; upon another of these so-called casts the setting from which the 
crystal is missing is furnished with a gem cut in facets ! To show the 
mischief which may be caused by these casts, one of these plaster 
abominations has been engraved for the Proceedings of an important 
Archaeological Society to illustrate a paper by one of its members, the 
society being of course unaware that the side of the box so repre- 
sented showed ornamentation different from that upon the Harp, and 
that much of the other ornamentation represented is spurious. If a 
cast of an object of interest is to be of value, it should be absolutely 
correct ; a drawing may not be so, but a cast, until it is proved to be 
worthless, is accepted as a facsimile. 


In the National Museum, Dublin, may be seen in a singularly fine 
state of preservation the brass mountings for an Irish Harp from the 
Crannog of Balhnderry near Moat, King's County. 

For the termination of the harmonic curve there is an enrichment, 
the front end of which is triangular in form (see illustration). Upon 
the front is the monogram I. H. S. surmounted by a cross, and beneath 

' The writer thinks it necessary to draw atten- side of the box has not been tampered with, and 
tinu to the fact that the oruamentatioii of the left that it has not been reproduced upon the cast. 



an interlaced cross enclosed in a circle. This triangular front is 6|- inches 

long, the lower side of the ti'iangle being 
2f inches broad. Attached to the edges 
of this triangular face by five nails with 
ornamented heads there is an elaborately 
wrought border or frame. The sides of 
this termination without the border are 1-g- 
inches broad/ each side having differently 
engraved patterns. Upon the right side 
there is a brass support for strengthening 
and retaining in position the harmonic 
curve and the fore-pillar (see illustration). 
This support, which is ^\ inches long by 
2^ at the widest part, is pierced in the 
centre in the form of a cross. The upper 
termination of the support is a dragon- 
esque head ; the lower portion divides and 
curves outwardly ; the termination of each 
end resembles the head of a bird. That 
nearest to the triangular termination is 
somewhat shorter, to allow for the com- 
mencement of the T formation. The 
bands for strengthening the harmonic 
curve upon either side, pierced for thii'ty- 
six tuning-pegs, form single curves and 
are ornamented, as are also the tuning- 
pegs. The measurement from the first 
tuning-peg in the treble to the triangular 
face is 19 inches. 

These brass mountings (the property of the Royal Irish Academy), 
probably late sixteenth century, were either attached to or intended for 
a Harp of a large size, perhaps five feet in height. At present they are 
placed upon a model, and the tuning-pegs, almost all of which are extant, 
are inserted in the respective holes. These mountings are exceptionally 
fine, finer than any other known specimens. The border or frame 
attached to the triangular termination is deserving of special notice. 

' The border rises § inch ; the heads of the nails are | inch above the border. 





< > 



































































(The Property of the Royal Irish Academy) 

Fig. I. 

The remains of this splendid instrument, generally known as the 
Dalway Harp from having been long in the possession of the family of 
that name in the county of Antrim, 
is now in the Dublin Museum. It 
was made in 1621 for Sir John Fitz- 
Edmond Fitzgerald of Cloyne, County 
Cork, who married Ellen Barry, 
daughter of Viscount Buttevant. Of 
this Harp, the harmonic curve and the 
greater part of the fore-pillar are the 
only jjortions that remain. The har- 
monic curve, according to Bunting, is 
of yew, and is wonderfully preserved, 
having escaped the ravages of the 
desti'uctive worms which have com- 
pletely riddled the beautiful fore-pillar. 
The harmonic curve and fore-pillar 
are elaborately carved in relief, the 
carvings being tinted probably in oil- 

The design is most unusual. Upon 
either side and within panels extend- 
ing almost the full length of the 
harmonic curve, a number of animals 
and reptiles appear in the act of 
escaping from, or having issued from, 
, Fig. II. f////////////A the open 
jaws of a 
wolf or 

dog, while beneath the extreme end of the harmonic curve a crowned 
queen with sceptre (Fig. i.) is represented in high relief. Above, but 




farther back, are side by side two creatures 
Fig. III. I pv'll ,, ; Fig. iv. with heads, wings, two legs, and long, snake- 
like tails, also in high relief; that upon the left 
side has a cock's head, and may have been 
intended for a cockatrice, tha,t upon the right 
side is dragonesque, perhaps a wyvern. Along 
the under side of the harmonic curve there is a 
23lain moulding in relief in the form of an 
elongated panel (Fig. ii.). Upon the right side 
of the fore-pillar, and at the lower termination, 
there is also a panel upon which are represented 
a camel and a goat, above which and extending 
to the upper termination of the T projection 
there is a beautiful foliaceous pattern, and 
towards the upper extremity a panel upon which 
a number of animals are represented, all ap- 
parently with cloven hoofs.' Along the flange 
or back of the T formation there is a fine design 
|^;p! representing pomegi'anates and leaves alter- 
nately, worked out by incised work and en- 
graved lines. This pattern, which is almost 
entire, is also enriched by colour (Fig. iv.). 
Upon a panel at the lower extremity of the 
left side of the curved fore-pillar, two beavers 
are represented in low relief Above this panel, 
issuing from the open jaws of a wolf, there is a 
most elaborate and beautiful foliaceous pattern 
which is continued to the upper termination of 
the T projection, above which and within a panel 
is represented a stag and ape,^ the latter with 
a band surrounding the body, to which a long 
chain is attached. Along the flange or back of 
the T formation there is an ornamental design 
of flowers and leaves shown by incised and 

the Harp rested upon the back of the box. 
■ The animals Ujion both sides of the fore- ^ I'jiis panel was completfi when Bunting's 

arm could only have been properly seen when illustrator drew the Harp about 1801). 
























1 — 



engraved lines, and enriched by colour. Only a portion of this pattern 
now remains (Fig. iii.). Upon the upper portion of the front of the 
fore-pillar is the date 1621, belowwhich are the Eoyal arms; those of 
Ireland — a Harp of the form then in use — occupying the fourth quarter, 
beneath which are the arms of Sir John Fitzgerald of Cloyne impaled 
with those of his wife, surmounted by a helmet, crest, and manteling, 
and with the mottoes "Virescit vulnere virtus," and " Boutez en avant," 
carved underneath. Upon the remainder of the front are three panels 
enclosing patterns in low relief The T formation terminates in a 
very delicate interlaced pattern. This pattern extends to the back, and 
forms the termination of the flange upon either side. The termination 
of the fore-pillar is also ornamented. The back of the fore-pUlar is 
almost wholly covered by an inscription. This Harp is rich in inscrip- 
tions in Irish and Latin. The former, as translated by O'Curry, are here 
reprinted : — 

" These are they who were servitors to John Fitz Edmond [Fitz 
Gerald], at Cluain [Cloyne], at the time that I was made, viz. the Steward 
there was James Fitz John, and Maurice Walsh was our Superintendent ; 
and Dermod Fitz John, Wine Butler ; and John Ruadhan was Beer 
Butler ; and Philip Fitz Donnel was Cook there. Anno Domini 1621.' 

' Theige O'Ruarc was Chamberlain there, and James Russel was House 
Marshal ; and Maurice Fitz Thomas and Maurice Fitz Edmond ; these 
were all discreet attendants upon him. Philip Fitzteigh Magrath was 
Tailor there ; Donnchadh Fitz Teigh was his Carpenter, — it was he 
that made me." 

" GioUapatrick Mac Cridan was my Musician and Harmonist ; and if I 
could have found a better, him should I have, and Dermot M'^Cridan 
along with him, two highly accomplished men whom I had to nurse me. 
And on every one of these may God have mercy on them all." ^ 

Upon the illustration which may be seen in Bunting's volume of 1809, 
one side of the fore-pillar is represented, and it appears at that period 

1 " Besides the Irish inscriptions there is, in remain ' Plecto vinco rego . . . monstra viros . 

large Roman letters, near the figure of a queen, musica Dei donum. distractas solatur musiea 

at the end of the harmonic curve — mentes . ut sonus . . . transit sic gloria mundi . 

lUE & EB ME FIERI FECERUMT EGO SUM Viocit Veritas.' Upon the inside of the bow in 

REGINA CITHARARUM. large letters is inscribed, ' Donatns filius Thadei 

"Upon the edge of the bow (fore-pillar) were me fecit, spes mea in Deo.'"— O'Curry's Lectures, 

Latin inscriptions (now partially lost): theie vol. iii. pp. 292-93. 


to have been of the full length. Besides the upper portion, which 
has since mouldered away, other portions have also disappeared. The 
foi-e-pillar passed through the hands of a restorer, and the missing 
portions were supplied in plaster or gilder's putty. It would have 
been better had these portions been left plain, however, as the restorer 
has not altogether successfully covered much of the restored portions 
with decoration. Upon the negatives that were specially taken for the 
purpose of illustrating this work, the writer had lines drawn separating 
the original from the restored jjortions. These lines, which upon the 
illustrations appear white, are intended to enable the reader to dis- 
tinguish between the genuine and spurious ornamentation. 

This Harp has forty -five strings in one row, and also seven additional 
strings on the left side, which are supposed to have been tuned in 
unison with the corresponding strings which occur about the middle 
of the scale. The metal bands upon either side of the harmonic curve 
through which the tuning-pegs pass form single curves ; most of the pegs 
are in their places and are ornamented. The extreme length of the 
harmonic curve is 35-| inches. The depth measured between the 
third and fourth pegs in the bass is 6^ inches. The extreme length 
of the fragment of the fore-pillar is 33 inches. The depth above 
the T projection is 4^ inches. The depth below the T projection is 
4 inches. The length of the T projection is 26f inches ; at its widest 
part it is 4j inches broad, at the back ]^ inches. The fore-pillar in 
front both at the upper and lower extremities is 1{-J- inches broad. 
The width at the back at the upper extremity is lf]r inches, at the 
lower extremity 1 ^ inches.^ 

To obtain correct photographs of this Harp, the writer had the 
existing portions placed side by side, both being at the same distance 
from the camera as they would had the Harp been in a perfect state. 
The photographs were then arranged, and the missing portion of the 
fore-pillar supplied. 

When constructing a probable box, the writer discovered that the 
upper portion of the box, to fit the harmonic curve, required to be 
formed obliquely (see Plate i.), also that if the sounding-board of the 

' A jiortion, probably the harmonic curve, was another portion, perhaps the fore-arm, was iu the 
exhibited at Belfast in 1S52 by .Marriott Dalway, possession of Mrs. Sherrard of Dublin. — Descrip- 
Esq., of Bellahill, Uarrickfergus. At this period tive Catalogue, ibid. Appendix. 


original box was not curved along the strings, the lower termination 
of the fore-pillar would not be parallel with the box. It is true that 
upon the illustration given by Pretorius (reproduced p. 26) the 
string-band is shown without a curve, and, as already noticed, Bacon 
describes it as not being curved. It must however be borne in mind 
that both these writers may have seen instruments constructed many 
years previous to the periods at which they wrote ; also that Harps 
with sounding-boards curved, both along and across the strings, were 
constructed in Ireland somewhat later than 1621. 

In the case of the Dalway Harp, supposing the string-band of the 
original box to have been perfectly straight, and the fore-pillar to 
have joined the lower portion of the sounding-board at an angle, the 
two portions not being parallel ^ would tend to show that the fore- 
pillar had been shortened by the tension of the strings. But as 
the fore-pillar of the Dalway Harp is unusually strong, and shows 
no longitudinal cracks,^ the probability is that it has not been so 
shortened ; so when constructing the box, the writer considered it advis- 
able to make the sounding-board curved across the strings, and also to 
make the box parallel with the termination of the fore-pillar, and con- 
tinue the junction line, and so give a slight curve along the strings (see 
Plate I.). On account of the size and weight of the harmonic curve, 
the writer has also given unusual width and depth to the upper portion 
of the box, and unusual width to the lower portion of the box, as the 
harp carved upon the front of the fore-pillar is so represented.^ 

The engraving Bunting gives of this instrument shows a sounding- 
board and sides. These additions he, very properly, represents without 
ornament ; but the sounding-board, sides, termination of the box and 

^ XJpoa the Lamout Harp the projecting block the lower portion of the sounding-board, ISi in. 
slopes towards the termination. The artiticer Length of sounding-board, 37| in. From the 
in this case may have anticipated the curvature upper portion of the sounding-board to the first 
along the strings, which he must have known string-hole, 3j in. ; distance between the string- 
would eventually occur. holes, | in. Extreme length of the box without 

2 The cracks that may be seen upon the fore- the projecting block, 39j in. ; length of the pro- 
pillars of the Queen Alary and the Trinity College jecting block, 4 in. ; width of the projecting block. 
Harps would account for increased curvature. 3J in. ; width of the raised string-band, H in. • 

^ From the scale of the model the following depth of the box at the upper extremity, 5I in.; 

measurements of a similar box, if constructed full depth of the box at the lower termination, 44- in. ; 

size, have been ascertained. Width of the upper length of the shortest stiing, 3| in. ; length of 

portion of the sounding-board, 5^ in. ; width of the longest string, 30J in. 


projecting block, as supplied to the casts of the existing portions 
which may be seen in our museums, are decorated, which is much to 
be regretted. There is also a considerable amount of spurious orna- 
mentation upon the back of the restored portions of the T formation 
which fortunately does not appear upon those portions of the Harp. 
The upper portion of the fore-pillar, now missing, particularly that of 
the right side, of which there is no drawing when in a perfect state, 
has also spurious ornamentation. In fact, the restorer (?) has neglected 
no part of the fore-pillar except those portions which were once covered 
with inscriptions ; the missing portions of such inscriptions he was unable 
to supply. 


This Harp, remarkable for size, form, and decoration, was apparently 
made in 1672 for Robert, second son of George, the sixteenth Earl 
of Kildare, whose initials with the Fitzgerald arms, charged with a 
crescent in chief surmounted by a helmet and an ape for crest, appear 
upon the front of the fore- pillar. See Plate in. (Fig. i.). 

The decoration of this Harp may be described as early Jacobean. 
The curved foi'e-pillar has at its lower termination and in front a 
grotesque human mask or face, above which is an elaborately incised 
carving surrounded by a circle (Fig. n.). A blank space surrounded by 
a series of semicircles in colour then occurs ; these semicircles cross 

each other on the inner side, the pointed 
portions of the ornamentation, shaded upon 
the illustration, being painted deep olive green. Between this panel and 
the armorial bearings and date, the artist has I'eproduced the ornament 
of the incised carving in colour. These coloured ornamentations are 
repeated above the armorial bearings, as is also the incised ornament 
surrounded by a circle already noticed. The upper portion of the 
fore-pillar terminates in a head facing upwards, perhaps that of a wolf 
or dog in very high relief (Figs. iii. and iv.). The T projection extends 
the entire length of the fore-pillar, and is at the centre 4f inches wide, 
that poi'tion of the pillar nearest the sounding-board being 1;^ inches 
wide. The edge of the T projection is ornamented in oblique stripes 



Plate 11, 



painted in black and white. The fore-pillar is not mortised into the 
harmonic curve as in the older harps, but is carried up and forms 
the bass termination of the harmonic curve. The fore-pillar has been 
slightly bent, and shortened by the tension of the strings. 

The harmonic curve, which is beautifully formed and richly decorated, 
has near the treble end and upon the upper side a grotesque mask or 
face in relief (Fig. v.), and terminates in a scroll. The carvings have 
been enriched by colour, of which red, black, white, and olive green are 
still visible. The metal bands through which the pegs pass have a very 
slight, scarcely perceptible, double curve. These bands are pierced 
for 36 pegs. The pegs are ornamented ; there are also two additional pegs 
in the bass. Besides these there were certainly two other holes (one 
of which has been plugged) which have been intended for pegs. 

The box, which is supposed to be of yew, is cut out of a solid block, 
and varies in depth from 4 inches near the upper extremity, 5^ inches 
in the middle, to 3i inches at the lower termination. The 
sounding-board, which is -^s of an inch in thickness, has 
about the centre two finely ornamented sound-holes (No. 1), 
above which are two incised decorations enclosed in circles 
(No. 2) ; and below the sound-holes are other two incised 
ornaments of difterent design from those above the sound- 
holes, but enclosed in circles (No. 3). The sounding-board, 
which was painted or picked out in colours of which red, 
white, dark brown, or black are still visible, terminates upon 
either side of the usual projecting block in semicircular 
endings. At the lower termination, the sounding-board 
is 1 ft. 2 in. broad. The raised portion or string band, 
which in this example begins at the upper extremity 
of the box, terminates in two steps upon either side, 
and is then carried round the semicircular endings of the sounding- 
board. Above the tenth string, this raised string band branches to 
either side in semicircles of somewhat Moorish character, the projection 
being then carried along the angles formed by the sounding-board 
and sides. The raised string band, which has a hollow or depression in 
the centre, is pierced for 39 strings, the greater number of " the shoes 
of the strings " are still attached ; these are of brass finely wrought, 


and are of horse-shoe form, the extremities representing the heads of 
birds being turned outwai'ds and upwards (see p. 29). The " shoes of 
the strings " are somewhat narrower in the treble than the bass. 
This harp is strung with brass wire of different thicknesses. These 
strings may not be very old, but they are probably of the correct gauge, 
as the stringing of the Harp was understood in 1849. The shortest 
string measures 2 inches, the longest 40 inches. The raised bands 
at the sides of the sounding-board form the angles of the box, and 
upon the sides of the box nearest to the sounding-board there are also 
raised bands which end in two semicircles surmounted by flattened 

It seems probable that the box of the Harp was at some period 
considered to be of insufficient length, as it is evident the fore-pillar was 
removed and a piece of metal in the form of the lower portion of the 
string band and steps, and considerably longer than the projecting block, 
was attached to the lower portion of the box. The projecting block was 
then increased in length by the addition of a block of wood, which added 
some inches to the height of the Harp. This addition to the projecting 
block, like the wood to which it is attached, is badly worm-eaten. Five 
metal bands have been attached to the box at difi'erent periods for the 
purpose of strengthening it. With the exception of that above the 
ornament No. 2 they are more or less rude. 

The height of the instrument is 4 ft. 8^ in. ; the extreme length 
of the harmonic curve is 2 ft. 7 in. ; the length from the end of the 
projecting block to the rise of the harmonic curve is 3 ft. ll:g in. 

This really splendid Harp was obtained by the late Dr. George Petrie 
from a poor woman who had purchased it at an auction in Dublin. Dr. 
Petrie upon discovering for whom it had been made thought that it should 
belong to the head of the family, and presented it to the fourth Duke 
of Leinster in 1849, since which time it has been preserved at Kilkea 
Castle and has been known as the Kildare Harp.^ 

' Tbe writer is indebted to Lnrd Walter Fitz- this work, and also for supplying some most in- 
gerald fur allowing a seiies of photographs to be tereating notes jegarding it. 
taken of this Harp for the purpose of illustrating 



Plate 111. 



Of this Harp we have three very brief notices. The first of these 
occurs in Bunting's coll. of 1809,^ either by the editor or by Mr. Henry Joy, 
and is as follows : " A Harp made by Cormack O'Kelly, of Ballynascreen, 
in the County of Londonderry, about the year 1700," has the figure of 
wolf-dogs engraved upon the front pillar. The second is undoubtedly 
by Bunting, who writes : " Quin's Harp was made by the same artist 
(Cormac O'Kelly, Ballynascreen, Coy. Derry). The editor saw it at 
Egan's, the late harp-maker's in Dublin. It was a handsome instrument, 
made, as usual, of red sallow from the bog. It bears date 1707."'" The 
third is by Dr. Petrie, who states that he saw the Harp, that it " bears 
the date 1707," and that it was, when he wrote, at Castle Otway.^ 

At what time it became the possession of the Otway family cannot 
be stated, for when the late Admiral Otway succeeded to the estate in 
1850 the harp was at Castle Otway, and it was not known when or from 
whom it had been acquired. 

This Harp is an extremely interesting and profusely decorated instru- 
ment. The box is cut out of a solid block; but the projecting block 
which has been fitted into a cavity in the stand by which the Harp is 
now supported is scarcely visible. The fore-pillar is slightly curved, and 
has not been shortened by the tension of the strings. The harmonic 
curve has the prominent peak which may be seen upon the Irish Harp 
illustrated by Pretorius, and reproduced p. 26. 

The box of this instrument is graceful in form. The sounding- 
board, which terminates upon either side of the projecting block in 
straight lines, has four sound-holes. These have hexafoil ornaments 
enclosed in circles, each of which is surrounded by two concentric 
circles enclosing chevron oi'namentation (Fig. viii.). The edges of 
the sounding-board had semicircular decoration similar to that upon 
the fore-pillar of the Kildare Harp (see p. 70), but little of this orna- 
mentation remains. The raised string band, which terminates in the 
treble in semicircular curves and in the bass in steps, is If in. broad, 

1 Note, [). 24. 3 O'Curry's Lectures, vol. iii., pp. 294, 295- 

2 Coll. 1840, Qote, p. 76. 297. 



301 ii 

near the treble it is -^ 

and was apparently curved along the strings, the rise in the centre being 
If in. There were, properly speaking, no "shoes of the strings"; but 
pieces of thin brass, formed at the sides into elongated curves and with 
Fig. I. holes for the strings in the centre of the corresponding 

curves, took their place. These pieces of brass are 
fastened by nails upon either side of the string-holes, and 
have for ornamentation two parallel lines of projecting 
knobs; and as the metal is thin, and the pieces are 
not of considerable length, they could not have inter- 
fered with the vibration of the instrument (Fig. i.) 
There are thirty-five string-holes : where these occur in 
the treble the strings have probably cut the string 
band and a piece of wood with new holes has been 
inserted. The shortest string is 2^ in., the longest 
The sounding-board is of unusual thickness, 
in., and near the bass f in. 
thick. At the upper extremity the sounding-board is 3f in. in width, 
and at the lower termination it is 12^ in. wide. At the upper portion 
of the box the angles are rounded off; here the measurement from 
the sounding-board to the back of the box is 5 in., and Fio. n. 
the width 4|- in. The sides of the box are 2 ft. llf in. 
in length. The depth at the upper extremity, owing to 
the rounding oJfF of the angles, is 4 in., about the centre 
4f in., and at the lower termination S^ in. 

The harmonic curve is finely formed. At the bass 
termination there is a brass enrichment, the face of which 
was relieved by five nails with ornamented heads, one of 
which remains. The sides of this enrichment are orna- 
mented in a series of inverted chevrons between four 
elongated drooping curves. A series of indents above the 
curves are carried over the chevrons, forming a waving 
line with pendants to the points of the chevrons. Above 
each curve the metal is pierced by a round hole (Fig. ii.). 
Between this enrichment and the projecting peak the 
decoration is largely in the form of chevrons shown by rope pattern. 
Within each chevron the decorator has represented a portion of an 


Plate I 



Fig. in. 

Fio. IV. 

arcade of semicircular arches (Fig. iii.). This chevron pattern, which 
terminates at either end in foliaceous designs, does not extend further 
than the pi'ojecting peak, behind Avhich upon either side there are fine 
interlaced patterns (Fig. iv.). 
Above and between these pat- 
terns a thin line of rope mould- 
ing extends towards the box, 
and similarly decorated bands 
are carried downwards upon 
either side behind the interlaced 
patterns, thus forming a cross (Fig. v.). The bands for the tuning-pegs, 
which are brass, form single curves and have saw-tooth edgings. These 
bands, of which small portions are missing,^ were 
pierced for thirty-four pegs, nine of which remain, and 
are ornamented (Fig. v.). The decoration is the same 
upon either side. The harmonic curve is of the ancient 
form, that is, it has a cavity underneath into which the 
fore-pillar is inserted. This cavity is considerably 
nearer the right side than the left (Fig. vi.). The 
length of the harmonic curve is 2 ft. 2|- in. The depth 
after it leaves the box is 3 in., where the peak occurs 4f in., about the 
centre 4 in., and at the bass termination 4|- in. The thickness of the 
lower portion is 2 in. 

Upon either side of the fore-pillar the ornamentation is practically 
the same. At the lower extremity there is a narrow band with rope 
moulding, which is carried along the outer edge until the T formation 
is reached. Within the angle formed by this and another rope moulding 
along the termination of the pillar, there is a foliaceous pattern, then a 
representation of a wolf-dog within a circle and surrounded by two 
concentric circles with chevron ornamentation, and above a foliaceous 
pattern. Chevron ornamentation, with arcade decoration similar to that 
already described, occurs until the upper portion of the T formation is 
reached, where there is a foliaceous pattern, above which a circle with 
interlaced pattern, and at the upper extremity a parallelogram with 

' The bands were not sufficiently strong to 
•withstand the strain, so a breakage has occurred, 

that on the right side, where it was pierced for 
the second tuning-peg. 



widely spaced interlaced pattern. At either side, and at the commence- 
ment and termination of the T formation, a gradually diminishing rope 
carved in relief, to be hereafter referred to, is carried along the angle 
formed by the flange and the fore-pillar, while the flange itself is covered 
by a foliaceous pattern (Fig. v.). 


The front of the fore-pillar (Fig. vi.) is very finely decorated. 
From where it joins the projecting block an elongated and open 
interlaced pattern is carried up for 7^ in., when it joins a singular 
ornament (Fig. vii.). It is difficult to determine what the artist 
intended to represent. The strands of two ropes are distinct. These 
become twisted, and, as already noticed, are carried along the back of 




Fig. VII. 

the T formation and gradually diminish. This portion of the ornamenta- 
tion upon the front is in low relief, while the ropes already referred 
to are in high relief. These and similar ornaments are the only portions 
of the decoration which are not incised. Above 
this ornament and at the commencement of the 
T formation there is a foliaceous pattern spreading 
out on either side, above which, enclosed in a 
circle with chevron ornamentation, there is a re- 
presentation of a wolf-dog in a crouching attitude 
with his head turned backwards (Fig. vii.).^ It 
will be found that three other representations of 
this animal occur with very slight variation. There 
can be no question as to the position in which the 
artist intended these representations of wolf-dogs 
to be viewed. That represented upon the right 
side of the fore-pillar, when seen as it would be 
were the Harp resting upon the back of the box, 
is in precisely the same position as the repre- inches. 

sentations upon the front of the fore-pillar, while 

that on the left side, when viewed iu the same manner, appears to 
be sitting more upon the haunches (Fig. v.). Above the wolf-dog 
there is a double representation of the interlaced pattern before referred 
to, and a date-palm in fruit. The wolf-dog is again represented, also the 
ornamentation in low relief showing the strands of the ropes, while an elon- 
gated and open interlaced pattern extends to the harmonic curve (Fig. vi.). 

The length of the fore-pillar along the outer curve is 351^ in. 
The width at the lower end is If in. Across where the lower wolf-dog 
occurs is 3|- in. ; across the upper wolf-dog 2f in. The width at 
the upper extremity is 1|- in. ; the depth both of the upper and lower 
extremities is 3f in., and at the centre 2|- in. The width at the 
back is 1^ in. The flange at the back of the T formation is 1|- in. deep. 

Upon the back of the fore-pillar, that is the portion nearest to the box, 
the figures 1410 are incised, immediately following which the name 
Cormac O'Kelly rudely carved can be indistinctly traced, after which 
there are letters or figures now scarcely visible. It is strange to find 

' The illustration is from a rubbing by Miss Otway-Ruthven, and from a photograph. 



Fig. VIII. 

Fig. IX. 

a maker's name carved in very rude characters upon an instrument so 
richly and delicately decorated. This harp is of a purely Celtic form, 
and has no resemblance to the genuine Cormac O'Kelly preserved 

at Downhill, except in having the sound-holes 
similarly ornamented, and sound-holes of both 
the harps are here represented for comparison ^ 
(Figs. VIII., IX.). 

The Castle Otway Harp has all the a23pear- 
ance of having been constructed during the 
first half of the seventeenth century, while the 
Dow^nhill instrument is dated 1702. It is certain 
that the Castle Otway Harp required to be 
repaired at some period, and certain repairs were 
executed upon the upper portion of the string 
band. The Harp may have been intrusted to 
Cormac O'Kelly for that purpose, and he may 
have carved his name and copied the ornamental 
sound -holes when constructing the Downhill 
instrument. The date "about 1700" or of 
" 1707," stated by Joy, Bunting, and Petrie to 
be upon it, is not visible, but the figures 1410 are 
distinctly so (Fig. x.)." In 1410 figures would 
most probably have been carved in relief, whereas in this case they are 
incised. Again, Arabic numerals were probably not 
in use in 1410. If these figures are examined in J ; 
reverse they represent 0171, and this is probably ^ | 
what Joy, Bunting, and Petrie noticed. t_*^.si^ . . _ , a 

There are ten strings of copper wire upon the Harp. These are 
simply to keep the three portions of the instrument together. The 
box and fore-pillar are much worm-eaten; the harmonic curve, which 
is apparently of different wood, is well preserved. The patterns upon 
the Harp are, with the exceptions noticed, indicated by incised lines, and 
in some places it appears that colour-staining has been resorted to 
to increase the effect, — red, and a darker colour being traceable. For 
illustration showing the back of the Harp see p. 28. 

Fig. X. 

' Both illustrations are from rubbings. 

The illustration is from a rubbing. 

yJ-fi/s T?'otter Fbnar.* 

Urocas Sadp^ 

THE IRISH AND THE HIGHLAND MK^xs.— Facsimile of an Engraving in the Joly Collection. (To face p. 78.) 


This Harp, which is still preserved at Castle Otway, Templemore,^ 
was no doubt made for a person of consequence. It must have been an 
old instrument when it came into the possession of Patrick Quin, a blind 
harper of note, and, as it has been associated with his name, the reader 
may care to know what has been recorded concerning him. He was 
born in 1745, and resided at Portadown, County Armagh, and had for 
his instructor Patrick Linden of the Fews, County Armagh, a distin- 
guished harper and poet. He attended the Belfast meeting in 1792, 
upon which occasion he played besides other tunes "Patrick's Day," har- 
monised by himself, which tune had not been previously played upon 
the harp. He was appointed teacher to the Dublin Harp Society, and 
played at two concerts at the Rotunda in that city in 1809 in commemora- 
tion of Carolan, where his performance was so well received that he for 
the future declined playing upon the violin, which he had previously 
been accustomed to do.^ An engraved portrait of Quin was exhibited 
at the Musical Loan Exhibition, Feis Cecil, 1899.^ 


This instrument, although not higlily ornamented, is one of peculiar 
interest, it having belonged to and been used by Cornelius O'Ffogerty,* 
a musician of note and chief of a very ancient Celtic family ; since whose 
decease it has remained one of the cherished possessions of the succeeding 
proprietors of Castle Ffogerty,^ where it is preserved. 

The box, which is formed out of a solid block of black sallow, 
in form resembles that of the Kildare Harp, but the lower portion 
of the sounding-board is wider in proportion. The sounding-board 
has six small sound-holes. The two centre and the two lower sound- 

' The writer is indebted to Mrs. Otway- vol. i. p. 181. 

Euthven, of Castle Otway, for allowing the ^ Catalogue, No. 103. Had a copy of this 

Harp to be photographed for the purpose of engraving been in the British Museum, the 

illustrating this work, and also to Miss Otway- writer would have endeavoured to have had 

Ruthven for an excellent drawing and rubbings it reproduced. The .Joly collection, the most 

of portions of the ornamentation. important in Ireland, is not available, and could 

- Bunting, coll. 1840, pp. 64-82. From Hardi- not be examined, 

man we learn that even as late as 1831 "The < Cornelius O'Ffogerty of Castle Ffogerty was 

strains of Patrick Quin, an old Irish harper, who born 14th May 1661, and died during 1730. 

performed publicly in Dublin in 1809, were still Burke's Landed Gentry, 

remembered with delight." — Irish Minstrelsy, ' Near Thurles, Tipperary. 



holes are each surrounded by ten concentric circles, five and five. 
The sounding-board terminates upon either side of the projecting block 
in semicircles. The string band, which is slightly raised, curves outwards 
towards the upper extremity ; these semicircles terminate at the sides 

The O'Ffogbrty Harp. 

of the sounding-board in well-designed floral endings. Above the semi- 
circles the raised string band widens into a leaf- shaped termination 
which, with the floral endings to the semicircles, somewhat resembles, 
and may have been intended to represent, a fleur de lis.^ There are 

' If the reader examines the plates representing 
this Harp and the Kildare Harp he will see that 
the extreme upper portion of the box in both 
cases is surrounded by a metal band of poor work- 
manship. Upon the O'Ffogerty Harjj the upper 
portion of the leaf is cut away for the baud. 

It is possible that these metal bands were added 
long after the Harps had left the maker's hands. 
A similar band of the commonest workmanship 
may also be seen on the Lament Harp ; in this 
case a portion of the ornamentation is apparently 



tliirty-Hve string-holes ; almost all have still the original " shoes of the 
strings " of brass. These are of the horse-shoe form, but narrow, the ends 
are turned outwards and upwards, and terminate in the heads of birds, as 
do those on the Kildare Harp. The shortest string is 2|- in., the longest 
is 3 ft. 0^ in. in length. Between the centre and upper sound-holes the 
string band has been cut through so as to admit of the insertion of a 
small band of iron for the purpose of strengthening the sounding-board. 

The fore-pillar, which is much curved, has withstood the tension 
of the strings in an unusual manner, for in this case no shortening of 
the pillar can be detected. The T projection commences whei'e the 
pillar is morticed into the harmonic curve and is continued the full 
length. It is at its widest part 4|- inches across, that portion of the 
pillar nearest to the sounding-board being 1|- inches in width. At the 
right side and at the upper end of the pillar four holes mark the place 
formerly occupied by a plate of gold, on which was engraved in Irish, 
" This is the harp of Cornelius O'Ffogerty." 

The harmonic curve of this instrument is of the ancient form, and 
has the peculiar peak which may be seen upon the Irish Harp illustrated 
by Pretorius, and reproduced p. 26, and upon the Castle Otway Harp ; 
but in this specimen the harmonic curve terminates in a finely carved 
scroll. The brass bands through which the brass pegs pass are in the 
form of single curves, and are pierced for thirty-six pegs, one of which is 

It is evident the harp at no time had more than thirty-five strings. 
This instrument, which is in an Excellent state of preservation, is of a 
light colour, and has not been decorated or varnished ; it was strung 
and played upon during the eighteenth century.' 

The height of the instrument is 3 ft. 8} in. The extreme length of 
the harmonic curve is 2 ft. Of in. The length of the box to the end 
of the projecting block is 3 ft. 1 in. 

1 The writer is indebted to Lieut. -Colonel John purpose of illustrating this work. An iiulifferent 
Vivian Ryau-Lanegan, D.L., of Castle Ffogerty, wood engraving of this instrument may be seen 
for allowing this Harp to be photographed for the in the Dublin Teuny Journal, vol. iii. p. 256. 




No. 1 

In the Dublin Museum are two Harps of a large size, which are 
supposed to date from 1650 to 1680. The first of these, formerly 

in the i^ossession of Major Sirr, was No. 3 
in the Catalogue of his Irish Antiquities 
(1841), in which Catalogue the following 
occurs: — "The head of the Irish goshawk is 
carved on the top of the pillar. There was 
a brass hand attached to it, which is lost (the 
bloody hand of the O'Neills). It belonged to 
a bard ? (sic) of the O'Neill family." ' This 
Harp is illustrated in the Catalogue of the 
Royal Irish Academy by Sir William Wilde, 
and in the Book of the Club of the True High- 
landers. The box is cut out of a solid block ; 
the sounding-board, which is half an inch thick, 
has four sound-holes, and terminates in straight 
lines at either side of the projecting block ; 
it is 3f inches wide at the upper extremity, 
13|- inches wide at the lower termination, 
and 39 inches in length. The sides of the 
box are at the upper extremity 4 inches 
deep, about the middle 4^- inches, and at the 
lower termination 3:|: inches. The instrument 
measures from the end of the projecting block to 
the highest portion of the fore-pillar, 5 ft. 2 in. 
The harmonic curve has a projection which to some extent approaches 
in form the peak already described as occurring upon the harmonic 
curve of the Castle Otway Harp, and also upon that of the O'Ffogerty 
Harp, but here the projection terminates in a head which Wilde 
describes as that of a rabbit. There are broad metal plates upon either 

1 Notes ami Queries, 9th Series, vii. p. 338. 


side of tlie harmonic curve, through which thirty-six tuning-pegs pass. 
These plates are probably not original, as upon the left, or string side, we 
find thirty-six nuts or straining-pegs attached, the last three of which 
have a very slight downward curve ; some of these are much decayed, and 
none appear to have had notches for the strings. Ujion the sounding-board 
there is a metal band with thirty-eight holes, through which the strings 
pass. This is, unquestionably, modern ; the two highest holes in the treble 
could not be used, as they are over the solid wood. The fore-pillar, which 
is slightly curved, and forms a portion of the harmonic curve, is carried 
to the full height of the instrument. The upper extremity is bent 
backwards, and carved into the form of the head of a bird, described by 
Wilde as that of an eagle. The T formation extends the greater portion 
of the length of the fore-pillar. This Harp is strung with thirty-six 
strings. The strings are modern, and of copper wire. The shortest 
string is 2|- inches, the longest 43f inches. 

No. 2 

The second Harp in this Museum has a box cut out of a solid 
block. There are no sound-holes in the sounding-board, but there are 
large cavities at the back of the box. The sounding-board terminates 
in straight lines upon either side of the projecting block, and the holes 
in the sounding-board for the strings to pass through are protected 
by "shoes of the strings" differing in form. The most numerous are 
triangular, with circular endings to the lower angles, somewhat similar 
to those upon the Downhill Harp (p. 29), and those above and below the 
triangular plates vary : some are hanging bands, bending outwards and 
terminating in rose-shaped ornaments of six leaves ; others are bands 
of horse-shoe form, with flat circular endings ornamented by seven small 
indents (see p. 29). There is no raised string-band. The length of the 
sounding-board is 42^ inches, the width at the upper extremity 5f inches, 
and at the lower termination 13 inches. The sides of the box are at 
the upper extremity 5|- inches deep, in the middle 5^ inches, and at 
the lower termination 3^ inches deep. The height from the end of 
the projecting block to the highest portion of the fore-pillar is 4 feet 
5f inches. 



The harmonic curve has been badly 
fractured near the treble, and canvas 
has been attached to it for preservation, 
but it appears as if the centre of the 
upper extremity of the box had been 
removed from front to back for some 
considerable depth, into which the treble 
termination of the harmonic curve is 

The fore-pillar, vphich is slightly bent, 
is carried to the full height of the instru- 
ment, and forms the termination of the 
harmonic curve. The T formation com- 
mences at the junction of the fore-pillar 
with the harmonic curve, and extends to 
the lower termination. This Harp has 
thirty - seven strings. The strings are 
modern and of copper wire. The shortest 
string is 2 inches, the longest 41 inches. 
The Harp is 4 ft. 6 in. in height. This 
Harp is without ornament, excepting two 
circular carvings with a centre which occur 
at the upper end of the fore-pillar. 


In the Belfast Museum may be seen a Harp of considerable interest. 
The markings upon different parts of this instrument, for the sake of 
convenience, are noticed in the following order : — Upon the bottom of 
the projecting portion of the box is the date 1654, the incised figures 
of which are certainly old, but it is impossible to say decidedly that 
they are of the period indicated. At the back of the spring of the 
harmonic curve where it issues from the box, there is an incised carving 
of a right hand — the badge of O'lSTeill — above which there is what 

1 An attempt to represent this unusual form the painting of Carolan plajing upon liis harp, 
may have been made by the artist who copied which was afterwards engraved. 


appears to be a rude representation of a ship, upon the hull of which is 
a cross, and lieneath a heraldic wreath, all incised, xlbove the ship are 
unintelligible incised marks. At the fore- 
most end of the upper portion of the har- 
monic curve a fish, probably a salmon, is 
incised, and upon the upper portion of the 
front of the fore-pillar there is a small 
cross. Upon the upper portion of the back 
of the box E L appears rudely incised. 

This Harp has been decorated more 
than once : the original colour appears to 
have been blue, much of which may be 
seen. Upon the right-hand side of the 
box a head is painted in oil-colour. The 
hair, which is unpowdered, is dressed in 
the fashion of the seventeenth century ; 
the countenance somewhat resembles the 
jjortraits of Charles ii. This portrait, for 
it certainly was intended for one, pro- 
bably formed part of the original orna- 

Upon the left of the fore-pillar is 
painted "Edu. Lindse of Lennox, mdccc4." 
This person's initials have already been 
noticed as appearing on the back of the 
box. This is the probable date of the last decoration of the Harp. 
The colour was now changed to red, Avhile gold shamrocks, well drawn, 
were distributed both on the sounding-board and on the sides of the 
upper portion of the fore-pillar. Upon the side of the box are two large 
oval spaces, one apparently intended to receive a metal plate. 

This Harp has more than its antiquity and decoration to recommend 
it. It is for its size unusually light, and is of graceful form. The fore- 
pillar, which is slightly curved, is thin, and as it has not the pronounced 
T formation it has been drawn considerably to the left side by the 
tension of the strings. The box has been cut out of a solid block, 
and the interior is formed like an arch. Examining the exterior, the 


sounding-board will be found to be much more arched than ia usual, 
and this arching has not altogether been caused by the tension of 
the strings ; the sounding-board could never have been flat. The back 
of the box is not a straight line, but slightly curves inwards, the depth 
of the curve being one half of an inch. This curvature is similar to that 
which has been noticed upon the Harp represented upon the shrine of 
. St. Moedoc (p. 24), and does not appear to have been caused by the 
tension of the strings. The lower portion of the box upon either side of 
the projecting block has semicircular terminations. There are no sound- 
holes except at the back. A band of iron, evidently modern, pierced 
with thirty-nine holes (one of which is over the solid wood), covers the 
string-holes. It is impossible that thirty-eight holes could have been 
used, as there are only thirty-six pegs. The pegs are of brass and are in 
their places. The harmonic curve joins the fore-pillar in the more 
modern fashion. The bands through which the tuning-pegs pass form 
single curves, and cross the upper portion of the fore-pillar which forms 
the bass termination of the harmonic curve. The width of the sounding- 
board at the upper extremity is 4 inches, at the lower termination 
9|- inches. The depth of the side of the box at the upper extremity is 
2|- inches, about the centre 3f inches, and at the lower termination about 
3^ inches.^ The extreme height of the Harp when being played upon 
is 4 ft. 7|- in. The length of the shortest string is 1-| inches, the longest 
46|- inches. 

The constructor of this Harp was content to finish off the junction of 
the harmonic curve with the box in a series of raised semicircles, and 
to fashion the angles of the sounding-board and sides, and the angles 
of the front of the fore-pillar in semicircular mouldings, and left the 
ornamentation entirely to the decorator.^ 

When the British Association met at Belfast in 1852 a large and 
important collection of antiquities was exhibited. To this collection, 
Mr. E. Lindsay of Belfast contributed three harps. One of these was 
probably the Harp under notice, and in the Descriptive Catalogue, p. 44, 
it is thus desci-ibed : " The Harp of O'Neill, one of the last of the old race 

' It may be remarked that tbis is an exception termination, 

to tbe usual form, all the other specimens being ^ The writer has to thank Mr. A. M'Googan 

of the same depth at the sides throughout, or for allowing him to use the photograph of this 

deeper at the upper extremity than at the lower H.arp. 


of Irish Harpers, well known in Ulster about the end of the last century 
(see Bunting's works)." Again in the Appendix, p. 11, the following 
statement occurs : " Of the three Harps exhibited by Mr. Lindsay, two of 
them are believed to have belonged to O'Neill and Hempson, men very 
remarkable in their day, and amongst the last of the genuine Irish 
Harpers." Mr. E. Lindsay may have been the Edu. Lindse of Lennox, 
whose name with the date 1804 is painted upon the Harp, or he may 
have been his son. 

It is not known by whom or at what date the Harp was presented to 
the Belfast Museum, but for many years it was shown in that museum 
as the Harp of Carolan. It was so known while Mr. Darragh had charge 
of the museum, and is so described in " Notes of some of the Interesting 
Objects," and was so pointed out to the writer in 1898. At the Musical 
Loan Collection in Dublin in 1899, it was exhibited as the Harp of 
O'Neill, the notice in the Catalogue being copied from that of 1852. In 
the Ulster Journal of Archaeology for January 1901 a statement occurs 
that it was the Harp of Arthur O'Neill, and had, subsequent to the death 
of that noted harper, been in the possession of Mr. Edward Lindsay of 
Belfast, who once gave a performance upon it at a meeting of the 
Anacreontic Society.^ 

There can be no reasonable doubt that this Harp at one time was in 
the possession of some person of the name of O'Neill, but there is no 
proof that that person was Arthur O'Neill, who in the two engraved 
portraits (probably from the same drawing) is represented as playing 
upon a totally different instrument. It is scarcely likely that the 
paragraph in the Appendix to the Descriptive Catalogue of 1852, viz.^ 
that it was believed to have belonged to O'Neill, would have been printed 
if it had then been known to have been his Harp. And the statement 
that it was acquired by Mr. Edward Lindsay after O'Neill's death is not 
likely to be correct, as his death occurred in 1816 and the Harp appears 
to have been in the possession of a Mr. Edu. Lindse in 1804. It may be 
remarked that the earliest assertion regarding the former ownership of 

1 It appears from this that the person to whom a favourite Harp of Arthur O'Neill was destroyed 

this Harp belonged before it became the jnoijerty when the house of the O'Neills of Oleiiarb was 

of the Lindsay family did not part with it on burned, does not strengthen Mr. Lindsay's asser- 

aceount of its being worthless as a musical instru- tiou. 
meat. And the fact that there is a tradition that 


this Harp was made after Bunting's coll. of 1840 was published, and that 
the collection was pointedly referred to. Dui'ing the last fifteen years of 
Bunting's residence at Belfast, this Harp was presumably in the possession 
of the Lindsay family; and, had it previously belonged to i/ie Arthur O'Neill 
Bunting in his coll. of 1840 so frequently refers to, he w^ould most 
likely have heard of it ; but although he has much of interest to relate 
regarding Arthur O'Neill, he does not notice the Harp. The fact that 
Mr. Lindsay exhibited a Harp (presumably the drawing-room instrument 
of the Sheraton period, also in the Belfast Museum) as " stated to be that 
of Hempson," whose Harp has been at Downhill since his death, does not 
make his unsupported assertion regarding the former ownership of this 
Harp acceptable. It is the writer's opinion that unless direct proof is 
forthcoming, Mr. Lindsay's statement should be received with grave 
suspicion, or altogether discredited. 


This instrument, which was made by Cormac O'Kelly,^ has upon the 
right side of the box, in incised letters, the following inscription (which 
refers to the bog wood out of which it was constructed) : — 

" [In the] time of Noah I was green ; 
[Since] his flood 1 have not been seen, 
Until 17 hundred and 02 I was found 
By C. E. Kely underground ; 
[He raised me] up to tliat degree, 
Queen of Musick [yo]u may ca[ll me]." 

The box is cut out of a solid block, the sound-holes are ornamented by 
hexafoils enclosed in circles (see p. 78). The lower termination of the box 
is peculiar; the sounding-board leaves the upper portions of the projecting 
block at right angles, then in semicircular sweeps joins the outer ends 
of the box. The sounding-board is considerably longer at the sides 
than at the centre. The thickness of the sounding-board is slightly 
less than \ inch. The width at the upper end is 4 inches, and at the 
lower extremity \^\ inches, the projecting block being 2|- inches wide. 

' " Of Ballynasereen, in the county of Derry, a Iribli melodies in their original purity." — Eunting, 
district long famous for the coiistruution of such cull. 1840, JJ. 77. 
insiruments, auj for the preservation of aucient 



The string-band is raised, and pierced with thirty holes. Most of the 
metal " shoes of the strings " are in their places. They are of a triangular 
form, with circular holes in the centre, and have semicircular termina- 
■ tions to the two lower ends pierced for 
nails (see p. 29). The raised string- 
band has at the upper end, and on 
either side, inverted curves, while, at 
the lower extremity, it is continued on 
the outside of the lower portion of 
the fore-pillar, and then forms a raised 
border to the termination of the sound- 
ing-board, and along the angle formed 
by the sounding-board and sides of the 

The depth of the box at the upper 
extremity is 4| inches, and at the lower 
termination 3 inches. 

The fore-pillar is curved, but the 
curvature occurs at one place only. 
There is some ornament in relief where 
it joins the projecting block ; from this 
junction the T projection is carried up for 
the greater length. The angles towards 
the sounding-board have rope mouldings. 
The fore-pillar, which has been scarcely, 
if at all, shortened by the tension of the 
strings, is carried up and forms the bass portion of the harmonic curve, 
and terminates in front in a head with open jaws which is directed 
downwards. The harmonic curve has upon the upper portion circles and 
other ornamentation in relief. The metal bands through which the tuning- 
pegs pass form smgle curves, and are pierced with thirty-two holes. ^ 
Most of the tuning-pegs are preserved. At the treble end the bands 

1 The writer is indebted toW. J. Browne, Esq., 
Londonderry, who went purposely to Dowahill 
to examine the Harp, for this version of the 
inscription, which differs somewhat from that 
printed by Bunting, coll. 1840, p. 76, and for an 

excellent photograph of the instrument, from 
which the illustration has been taken, and also 
to Wm. Jackson, Esq., for measurements and 



have floral terminations, each with five leaves. On account of the 
strain and a bad fracture the bands have been broken near the treble. 

The measurement from the end of the projecting block to the highest 
portion of the harmonic curve is 48 inches, the shortest string is 2f inches, 
and the longest string 38 inches. This Harp, although not actually made 
for Denis Hempson, was presumably for the greater portion of his excep- 
tionally long life used by him, and was most probably played upon 
before Prince Charles Edward at Holyrood in 1745. As Hempson was 
the last representative of the ancient school of harpers, and as his name 
has been so associated with this Harp, the following short notice of him 
is here given : — 

Denis a Hampsy or Hempson was born at Craigmore near Garvagh, 
Londonderry, in 1695. When three years of age he lost his sight, and at 
twelve commenced to learn the harp from Bridget O'Cahan. He after- 
wards studied under John C. Garragher, Loughlin Fanning, and 
Patrick Connor, all of whom belonged to the provmce of Connaught, 
which, as he himself said, was " the best part of the kingdom for Irish 
harpers and for music." When eighteen, that is during the year 1713, 
three gentlemen who were interested in him presented him with a harp, 
probably the one already noticed. He travelled through Ireland, and 
also on two occasions through Scotland. During his last visit to that 
country in 1745 he played at Holyrood. As already stated, he was the 
only harper at the Belfast meeting in 1792 who pulled the strings 
with crooked nails.' The Rev. George Sampson, in a letter written 
3rd July 1805, when Hempson was 110, states that even at that 
age he played for him with astonishing justness and taste the three 
tunes he had played during the first day of the Belfast meeting. He 
cared little for the music of Carolan, but principally played the really 
ancient music, and some of it most reluctantly. Bunting states that "it 
was with the greatest diSiculty he was able to procure the old harp 
music from Hempson. When asked to play the very antique tunes he 
uniformly replied, ' there was no use in doing so, they were too hard to 
learn, they revived painful recollections.' In short, he regarded the old 
music with superstitious veneration, and thought it in some sort a 
profanation to divulge it to modern ears." It was with the utmost 

' His method of playing as described by Bunting has been previously noticed. 

Zn^rav^ iram an Oria^ial Praww^ h}' £. Scriren . 

II E M P s o :^ 



reluctance that he was prevailed on to play even the first portion of 
" Feaghan Gleash," an ancient prelude (p. 121 ). He would rather, he said, 
have played any other air, as this recalled the times long past when the 
harpers were accustomed to play the ancient caoinans or lamentations 
with their corresponding preludes. The remaining portion of the prelude 
he solemnly declared he had forgotten. He lived at Magilligan in a 
cottage which the Earl of Bristol had built for him, and where during the 
last years of his life he was cared for and visited by the Rev. Sir H. 
Hervey Bruce, Bart., who on Hempson's death in 1807^ at the age 
of 112, had his harp removed to Downhill.^ It fortunately escaped 
the destructive fire which consumed so much of that residence, and 
is now the property of the Right Hon. Sir Henry Hervey Bruce, Bart., 
of Downhill, Londonderry. 


This Harp was made by John Kelly ^ in 1734 for the Rev. Charles 
Bunworth, Baltdaniel, rector of Buttevant, County Cork.^ 

In 1826 it was in the possession of Mr. Bunworth's granddaughter. 
Miss Dillon of Blackrock, near Cork,* and afterwards became the property 
of Mr. Bunworth's great-grandson, Thomas Crofton Croker, author of the 
Fairy Legends of the South of Ireland, whose mother was a daughter of 
Croker Dillon of Baltdaniel, County Cork,^ at which period a drawing was 
made which was engraved for Mr. and Mrs. S. C. Hall's Ireland, vol. ii. 

' November 5, 1807. — Ryan's Worthies of pillar, has been omitted, probably on account of 

Ireland, vol. ii. p. 305. the size of the canvas. 

- Bunting, coll. 1840, pp. 73, 74, 7o, 76, 83. ^ The district in which John Kelly resided has 

When Sir Henry visited him for the last time, not been noticed, but he probably belonged to the 

"he desired to be raised up in bed and the harp south of Ireland, as the two harps made by him 

placed in his hands. Ha^'ing struck some notes of which we have illustrations and notices were 

of a favourite strain, he sank back unable to in the possession of persons who resided in that 

proceed, taking his last adieu of an instrument portion of the Island. 

which had been a companion, even in his sleeping * Croker's Fairy Legends, Edn. 1826, p. 197. 

hours, and was his hourly solace through a life At the contention or meetings of the bards (poets) 

protracted to the longest strain." On the follow- of Ireland between the years 1730 and 1750, which 

ing day this last of the old school of harjiers were generally held at Bruree, County Limerick, 

passed away. — Ibid. p. 76. An engraving from a this gentleman was five times chosen umpire or 

portrait taken when over 100 jears of age by president. — Croker's Sale Catalogue. See Hardi- 

E. Scriven for General Hart, which appeared in man's Irish Minstrelsy, vol. i. note, p. xxvii. 

Bunting's coll. 1809, has been reproduced. The " Croker's Fairy Legends, p. 204. 

head, which forms the termination of the fore- '' Dictionary of National Biography. 


p. 410/ After the death of Mr. Croker the Harp was sold by Messrs. 
Puttick and Simpson on 22nd December 1854, and was purchased by- 
Thomas Bateman of Lomberdale House, Derbyshire, and placed in his 
museum. At the disposal of Mr. Bateman's Collection by Messrs. 
Sotheby, Wilkinson, and Hodge in June 1893 it was No. 292 in the 
catalogue, and eventually became the property of Rev. F. W. Galpin,^ 
and now forms part of his most interesting and valuable collection of 
musical instruments at Hatfield, Essex. 

From Mr. T. Crofton Croker we learn that Mr. Bunworth was 
known far beyond the limits of the parishes adjacent to his own, not 
only for his performance upon the Irish Harp, but also for his hospitable 
reception and entertainment of the harpers who travelled from house 
to house about the country, who sang his praises to the accompaniment 
of their harps. ^ 

From another writer we learn that "he was greatly distinguished for 
his patronage and knowledge of Irish music, and that he was a remarkably 
good performer on the Irish Harp." * 

Both these writers mention the Harp. 

Although this Harp is of a comparatively late make, it is of interest 
and value, and in some respects differs from the other specimens noticed. 
It is besides the only known example by John Kelly that has been 
preserved. That maker perhaps lived in a district where suitable blocks 
of wood were not easily obtainable ; so, the one selected to be hollowed 
out for the box being somewhat irregular in form, Kelly appears to have 
found it necessary to follow the irregularities or bends of the tree. 
Thus we find near the upper portion of the left side a depression 
extending for two feet. This depression is f inch deep in front and 
nearly ^ inch deep at the back ; and on the right side near the lower 
termination a depression extending for 1 foot, which is in front ^ inch 
deep and f inch deep at the back. 

^ It is stated in the Lomberdale House - Mr. Galpin in the most generous manner 

Catalogue that the drawing was by D. Maclise, permitted the writer not only to photograph this 

R.A., who was certainly a friend of Croker's ; but Harp, but also any other of the numerous instru- 

Mr. and Mrs. Hall, who usually notice the illustra- ments belonging to him which formed jjart of 

tors, do not mention by whom the drawing was the exhibition of musical instruments at the 

made. There are also small illustrations in Fairy Crystal Palace in 1900. 

Legends, Edn. 1898, and in Ancient Musical Instru- ^ Fairy Legends, Edn. 1826, p. 198. 

ments (the Galpin Collection) by William Lynd. ■* The Worthies of Ireland, Richard Ryan, p. 228. 




This Harp is well decorated. The ornamentation mainly consists of 
wavy stems with foliage, from which spring roses, thistles, and lilies — 
symbolical of England, Scotland, and France — and as the shamrock is not 
represented, the Harp itself may be accepted as the symbol of Ireland. The 
patterns are, as a rule, shown by incised lines, and are enriched by colour. 

The box is formed out of a solid block. The soundincf-board, which 
is convex both at the upper and lower extremities, has been drawn up 
in an unusual manner by the 
tension of the strings, so at 
the highest portion we find the 
string- band 2\ in. above the 
sides of the box. The raised 
string-band, which is at the 
upper end 1^ in. wide, and at 
the lower extremity 2|- in., 
terminates at the upper end in 
a fleur-de-lis in relief. This 
string-band, which ceases to be 
in relief as it approaches the 
fore-pillar, is then indicated by 
incised lines, and terminates in 
a lily of different form, also 
shown by incised lines and 
colour. In place of " shoes of 
the strings" there are short 
pieces of thin brass perforated 
and attached to the string- 
band. There are no sound- 
holes. The width of the box 
at its lower termination is 
I3f in., at the first string-hole in the treble 5|- in., and at the upper 
extremity 4 in. The length of the box, which terminates at either side 
of the projecting block in straight Hnes, is 41f in. The projecting block 
is only 2 in. in length, and is shaped or cut both from the sounding- 
board and from the back. An examination of the interior of the lower 
portion of the box shows that no block of wood has been left above the 


projecting block, and that the end of the box is If in. thick. The 
thickness of the sounding-board has not been ascertained, but it is most 
probably considerably thicker at the lower extremity than at any other 
part. The back of the box, which has two circular cavities or sound - 
holes, is not fitted into the sides, but is attached to them and to the 
lower end. The depth of the sides at the upper extremity is 5^ in., 
about the centre 5|^ in., and at the lower termination 4^ in. At the upper 
extremity the back of the box has been cut or shaped, i.e. an angular 
piece has been removed. There is a cavity in the upper portion of the 
front of the box f in. deep ; this is carried backwards for S^ in. 

The harmonic curve is fitted into the cavity in the upper portion of 
the box, after leaving which at a right angle it is straight for some 
distance before it takes the usual curve. At the treble end it is 3f in. 
deep, at the centre Sg- in., and at the bass 3 in. It is rounded above, 
and is mortised into the fore-pillar in the more modern fashion, and held 
together by brass bands which form single curves and are pierced for the 
tuning-jaegs. The length of the harmonic curve, to where it joins the 
fore-pillar, is 31 in. above, in fact, the upper portion of the harmonic 
curve is pierced and forms a graceful ornament, the centre of which is 
unfortunately missing, but the roughly cut portions show where the 
fractures have occurred and where in the centre the scroll ornament 
joined the harmonic curve. 

The fore-pillar is somewhat bent, and is carried up the full height of 
the instrument, forming the bass portion of the harmonic curve, and 
terminates in a head, apparently that of a female with a pendent head- 
dress extendinof back from the chin, above which is a cushion, on the 
front of which the coronet of a countess is represented by incised lines. 
The lower portion of this cushion, at the sides and back, takes the form 
of a series of semicircles. The fore-pillar, which is not inserted into the 
projecting block as is usual, joins the sounding-board one inch from the 
end of the box ; it has the T formation the whole length. The greatest 
width of the T formation in front is 3f in., the thickness of the outer 
edge being f in. increasing to f in., the entire depth of the fore-pillar 
being 3 in. The width of the upper portion of the fore-pillar is 2^ in., 
from the middle to the lower end f in., at the back |^ in. The length of the 
fore-pillar is 5 ft. 3 in. The total height of the instrument is 5 ft. 6^ in. 


The bands through which the tuning-pegs pass form single curves, 
and are pierced for thirty-three tuning-pegs ; the length of the shortest 
string is 3f in. , that of the string attached to the last tuning-peg in the 
bands is 40 in. Besides the tuning-pegs in the bands there are four in 
the upper portion of the fore-pillar — the length of the string from the 
uppermost of these is 44^ in., that from the second 41^ in., that from the 
third 39^ in., and that from the fourth or lowest 38|^ in. Most of the 
tuning-pegs are old and are ornamented ; the strings are modern. The 
last string-hole in the bass is 3 inches from the fore-pillar and 8 inches 
from the end of the box. The first string hole in the treble is 3|- inches 
from the junction of the harmonic curve and the box. 

The ornamentation of the box is indicated by incised lines and 
colour, the ground being chocolate, the other tints mainly sober red 
and white. The lily at the lower termination of the string- band 
is repeated at either side of the lower extremity of the sounding-board. 
There are six ornaments in place of sound-holes. These are shown by 
incised lines, and are painted red and white ; in form they are hexafoils 
inclosed in circles, the hexafoil terminations being joined by inverted 
semicircles. On either side of the sounding-board there is a border in 
colour terminating in the half lily ornamentation before referred to, 
the other half of each lily being represented upon the sides of the box. 
From each of these half lily ornaments, and running along the edge 
nearest to the angle formed by the sides of the box, are borders indicated 
by a series of incised semicircles ; these borders are carried round the 
upper ends of the sides of the box and along the lower portion of the 
sides. Within the spaces surrounded by these bands the x'ose, thistle, and 
lily are represented on the left side by incised lines and coloured sober 
red. The rose and lily alone are represented upon the right side, and are 
variegated in colour. 

The front of the fore-pillar beneath the female head already noticed 
has the sides straight for some distance, then a large circle with two 
inner circles, below which the sides represent for a considerable portion 
of the entire length a series of semicircles, and larger circles with 
two inner circles and straight sides terminate the fore-pillar. The 
ornamentation between the upper and lower circles is shown by incised 
lines. In the centre the following occurs : " Made by John Kelly for the 


Eev. Charles Bunworth, Baltdaniel, 1734" ; above which is a thistle and 
beneath a lily, both being well represented. On the left side of the fore- 
pillar and behind the T formation the rose, thistle, and lily occur, while 
on the right side the rose, thistle, and lily also appear. The back of the 
fore-pillar is without ornament. 

Upon the left side of the harmonic curve the rose, thistle, and lily 
appear, while on the right side the rose and lily only are represented. 

The harmonic curve and the fore-pillar are attached to the box by 
iron straps, each having at their extremities fleur-de-lis ornaments ; 
these straps, which are nicely fitted and attached by screw-nails, are 
probably modern. 

The Harp has not the appearance of having been much used ; that 
is, the angles formed by the sounding-board and sides are not rounded off 
or worn away as they would be had they been subjected to constant 
friction from the wrists or arms. The original keys do not show signs of 
wear. Upon the left side of the sounding-board a piece has been added, 
and upon the left side of the box two pieces have been let in. If these 
are ■ not the work of John Kelly the ornamentation has been well 
reproduced. The Harp is much worm-eaten, and as it is painted the 
wood used in its construction has not been ascei'tained. 


This Harp is unlike any of those already described, and is the only 
known specimen of considerable antiquity the box of which is not cut 
out of a solid block. It is probable that logs of bog sallow were not 
obtainable within easy reach, ^ and the difficulty of transporting a 
suitable block from a distance was so great, that the artificer was forced, 
in place of constructing the box of the instrument in the accustomed 
manner, to build or construct it out of several pieces. It appears that 
he was aware of the usual form and followed it. The lower portion 
of the box, for instance, shows what was intended to represent a 
stunted projecting block, on either side of which the sounding-board 
terminates in curves. Again the grain of the wood of the sounding- 
board runs along the strings, and the sides of the box are deeper 

1 There are no bogs along the low-lying of Dublin. Bogs do occur in Wicklow, but upon 
portions of Wicklow or the neighbouring county the high ground where willow would not grow. 




at the upper extremity than at the lower termination. As the 
artificer has shown great ingenuity in the construction of the box, 
the following probable method adopted by him may perhaps interest 
the reader. A block 2 in. long was first prepared, two curved pieces 
of wood ^ in. thick were attached to it at 1^ in. from the termination. 
To the outer portion of these curved pieces of wood the 
sides of the box wei'e attached (Fig. i.). A block of 
wood 1 in. thick to which the sides were attached formed 
the upper termination of the box. A portion of this block, 
wedge-shaped in form, protruded from the termination of 
the box; to this the harmonic curve was fitted (Fig. ii.). 
The framework of the box being thus constructed, it was probably 
placed upon a plank of suitable wood, perhaps rather more than an inch 
thick ; lines were then drawn indicating the outer and inner 
sides and ends of the frame and the projecting block. The 
outside portions of this board were then cut away so as to 
allow the inner portion to be inserted. The sound-holes 
were then made and the metal string-band attached, and the 
exterior of the sounding-board formed convex across the strings. And 
finally, the inner portion of the sounding-board was hollowed into the 
form of a flattened arch. The sounding-board being securely y^^ jjj 
fastened to the sides, ends, and projecting block mouldings, 
the section representing a segment of a circle was attached 
so as to cover all the joinings (see section. Fig. iii. ), and the 
back covered in by a board. It is clear that this Harp was not intended 
to rest upon the lower termination of the box, for there are two holes in 
the outer portions of the curved pieces of wood into which pegs or 
supports were screwed ; the worms of the screws are distinctly visible 
(Fig. I.). The sounding-board, the grain of which runs along the strings, 
has been slightly raised by the tension of the strings. In thickness 
it is 5 in., and in it are six circular sound-holes, 1 in. in diameter. 
There is no raised string-band, but in place of the " shoes of the strings " 
there is a metal band f in. wide, extending from the fore-arm to the 
harmonic curve. This band is pierced for thirty-eight strings, the holes 
being ^ in. at the surface and ^ in. next the wood. This metal string- 
band is certainly old, it is fastened by nails and is fairly strong, but not 



thick, and would not interfere much with the vibration ; it, however, 
did not answer the purpose intended, as the sounding-board is badly 
Fig. IV. split for some length along the string- 

holes. The raised string-bands to be 
found upon the older Harps appear better 
to have withstood the tension of the 
strings than this metal band fastened as it 
is by ordinary nails. The sounding-board 
is 4|^ in. broad at the upper extremity, 
and 94 in. broad at the lower termination. 

The length of the box is 37 in. ; the sides 
are 5f in. deep at the upper extremity, 
and 4|- in. deep at the lower termination. 
In the board now covering the back of 
the box there is a large cavity. The 
board is badly fitted and may not be that 
originally supplied. As there are six sound- 
holes through which the instrument could 
be re-strung, a cavity at the back was 
unnecessary. All the portions of the box 
are most carefully put together, and, if 
when constructed and decorated there 
was no cavity at the back, it must have 
been difficult to trace the several joinings. 
That portion of the block at the 
iipper termination of the box, to which 
the harmonic curve is attached, does not rise from the centre of the 
box (Fig. II.), the measurement on the left side being 1|- in., while 
that on the right side of it is 1|- in. This arrangement allows the 
strings to be more perpendicular than they otherwise would be. The 
bands through which the tuning-pegs pass are iron, and form single 
curves. They are pierced for thirty-nine tuning-pegs, some of which are 
plain, while others show two forms of ornamentation, both old. The 
length of the shortest string is 2f in., that of the longest string is 37 in. 
The strings at present on the Harp are all brass, of the same gauge, and 
are modern. The upper portion of the harmonic curve is rounded, and 


has a moulding on either side. About the centre there is a rude repre- 
sentation of a crown in relief. The fore-pillar is remarkable : it springs 
from that portion of the sounding-board which covers the projecting 
block. It is almost straight, and joins the harmonic curve in the more 
modern fashion, the upper termination being curved backwards in the 
form of a scrolL Near to the junction with the harmonic curve there is 
a perforation in the form of a triangle. This is an unusual -,, 

feature. There is no T formation, but the section shows p"--., ""l 
the form of a stunted Y, which is one of considerable cf&\ / 
strength (Fig. v.).' The extreme height of the instrument '~~'~"' 

unsupported bj pegs is 4 ft. 1^ in. ; the greatest width is 2 ft. 2|- in. 

This Harp is painted and decorated. The colour foundation, sober 
red, is varied by splashes of rich brown, or dark brownish green. Upon 
this foundation the designs are traced. These designs are in gold, out- 
lined in black, black lines being added when necessary to increase the 
effect. The Harp had originally not been varnished, so the greater 
portion of the gold had disappeared before varnish was applied ; but upon 
that portion least likely to have been subjected to friction, that in the 
under side of the harmonic curve, the ornamentation is distinct. The 
ornamentation may be described as an attempt to represent a Chinese 
design. Upon the left and right sides of the box there are foliaceous 
patterns. Upon the front of the fore-pillar there appears to have been a 
foliaceous pattern, and a foliaceous pattern fairly distinct is also to be 
seen upon the lower side of the harmonic curve. The sounding-board 
received more attention from the decorative artist than the other 
portions of the instrument. At the lower termination and upon the left 
side there is an arrangement of leaves and fruit, while upon the right side 
an arrangement of leaves and flowers is fairly distinct. Between the 
second and third sound-holes, and upon the left side, a bird with long, 
straight neck and head, apparently an ostrich, is distinctly visible ; while 
upon the right side a bird with a long, waving neck can be traced. Between 
the first and second sound-holes, and on the left side, a figure of a man. 
with a hat, very Chinese in form, is distinctly seen ; while upon the right 

' When preparing the drawing of this Harp, drawing. In front the measurement is 2i in., 

the writer found it impossible to do more than from front to back If in., the circumference 

indicate the outline of the fore-pillar. The being 6 inches, 
section, Fig. v., is reduced from a full-sized 


side there is the figure of a man, very indistinct, and, above, an eagle. 
Between the upper termination of the box and the first sound-holes on 
both sides, there are foliaceous designs. The Harp shows signs of having 
been considerably used. 

It is not known how long this Harp has been at HoUybrook. It is 
supposed to date from 1720, and is old enough, and is believed to have 
been the Harp of a former proprietor, Robert Adair, " so famous in a 
number of songs in Scotland and Ireland," as M. de Latocnaye, who 
visited Hollybrook in 1796, informs us.' The author of the words of the 
song, Robin Adair, so happily wedded to the ever fresh and beautiful 
melody, Eileen Aroon,^ is not known. They were sung by Braham at his 
benefit in 1811, and may have been old at that period. Much has been 
written about them, but no definite statement can be made. 

Robert Adair of Hollybrook was the ancestor of the present possessor 
of the Harp, Sir Robert Adair Hodson, Bart., of Hollybrook, County 
Wicklow, where it is still preserved, who has kindly allowed it to be 
photographed for the purpose of illustrating this work.^ 

Of this Harp a half-tone block illustration from a photograph appeared 
in The Leisure Hour for January 1901. It is to be regretted that this 
illustration fails to show the triangular perforation of the fore-pillar, the 
most distinctive feature of the instrument. 


This instrument, believed to have been the fii'st made by this noted 
maker, is deserving of notice, as it is perhaps the most interesting of the 
more modern specimens. Egan, when constructing this Harp, must have 
had an ancient Harp before him, the form of which he followed with 
slight variations. 

" John Egan, No. 25 Dawson Street, 1809," is engraved upon one of the 
metal bands through which the tuning-pegs pass, and upon the sounding- 
board there is an inscription in German text, some of which is now 

' There is no similar statement regarding any Hardinian's Irish Minstrelsy, 

other Robert Atlair, and as Ue Latocnaye visited ' The writer is indebted to Lady Hodson for 

Hollybrook, he presumably got his information allowing him to examine this Harp, and to 

upon the spot. — Leisure Hour, January 1901. Miss Hodson for drawings, measurements, and 

- Petrie, in O'Curry's Lectures, vol. iii. p. 29S ; descriptioua of the instrument. 


indistinct, but a transcript was made many years since, and attached to 
the back of the Harp, of which the following is a copy : — 

"The Harp once made at your command, 
With ancient song, shall charm the land ; 
While each young and poor Orphan boy 
From your high bounty finds employ ; 
May kindliness sweet peace prolong. 
And glad inspire the dance and song." 

In 1809 the Harp Society was started in Dublin, the first Belfast 
Harp Society, which was instituted in 1807, being at the time in a 
flourishing state. This instrument may have been the first made by 
Egan for either of those institutions. 

The box of this Harp, which is built up or constructed of several 
pieces, is flat at the sides, and has a projecting block 5^ in. long. The 
lower portion of the box takes the form of semicircular curves at either 
side of the projecting block. The sounding-board, the grain of which 
runs across the strings, has no sound-holes. It is 37^ in. long, 4^ in. 
broad at the upper extremity, and ll|^ in. broad at the lower termination. 
It has a fairly wide and deep string-band, pierced for thirty-six strings, 
with wire protections above each hole. The sides of the box are 36 in. 
long both at the front and at the back. The depth at the upper 
extremity is 3 in. ; 2^ in. lower it is 3f in., and at the lower termination 
4f in. Here Egan no doubt altered the form. Almost all the ancient 
harps that are extant have the sides of the box the same depth through- 
out, or deeper at the upper than at the lower extremity.^ The pro- 
jecting block, which is formed of two pieces, is 4 in. deep. 

The fore-pillar, which is without the T formation, is slightly curved, 
is perfectly plain, and is formed out of one piece of wood. The lower 
portion is inserted into the projecting block, while the upper extremity 
is turned backwards, and is formed into a representation of the neck and 
head of an eagle. This neck and head have been added. Thei-e is no 
indication of the original form of the upper portion of the fore-pillar, but 
it may have been a scroll. The length from the end of the projecting 
block to the present termination of the fore -pillar is 53^ in. ; the length 
of the fore-pillar, from where it joins the sounding-board, is 45f in. 

' The Belfast Museum Harp is an exception. 


The harmonic curve rises from the centre of the termination of the 
box ; it then takes a curve tov^ards the right as in the modern harps. 
It is of one piece of vi'ood and joins the fore-pillar in the more modern 
fashion, and is furnished v^^ith two metal bands forming single curves ; 
these are pierced for thirty-six pegs, all of v^hich are in their places 
and are slightly ornamented in imitation of those upon more ancient 
specimens. These pegs do not extend far upon the left side. There are 
no nuts or straining-pins. The shortest string is 2|- in., the longest is 
39|- in. The greatest width of the instrument is 26 in. The length 
from the end of the projecting block to the upper portion of the harmonic 
curve after it leaves the box is 46 in. The fore-pillar has not been bent 
towards the left, nor has the sounding-board been drawn up by the 
tension of the strings. There is a large cavity at the back of the box. 
The instrument, which does not show much signs of wear, is in form much 
superior to the harps supplied by Egan to the second Belfast Harp 
Society. From a MS. statement on the back of the box we learn that 
this instrument was played upon at the " Liberator's " chairing as M.P. for 
Dublin in 1832. This Harp is in the possession of E. W. Hennell, Esq., 
who has most obligingly allowed the writer to examine and measure it. 


In the Victoria and Albert Museum there is a Harp, which was pre- 
sented in 1872 by the Ven. Archdeacon Saurin ^ as having belonged to a 
celebrated harper, whose name, unfortunately, was not noted. The box 
of this instrument, which is built up or constructed out of several 
pieces, differs in form from that of the older specimens, the sides being 
deeper at the lower termination than at the upper extremity. The 
sides of the box are cut at acute angles from the sounding-board at 
the lower termination so as to form a stand. The sounding-board is f in. 
thick and is fastened to the upper portion of the sides of the box, 
having along the edges narrow pieces of wood ^ in. deep. The width 
at the lower termination is ll|- in., and at the upper extremity 5|- in. 

' Probably the gentleman of the same name of 1852. This Harp was not one of the exhibits ; 
Seagoe, County Armagh, who contributed to the it may not have been in the Archdeacon's posses- 
collection of autifjuities exhibited at Belfast in sion at that period. 



The grain of the wood runs across the strings. There are no sound- 
holes, but there are cavities at the back of the box. Attached to the 
sounding-board there is a narrow but strong iron band pierced with 
forty-one holes for strings. Of these holes two in the treble and one 
in the bass are over the solid wood, 
leaving thii-ty-eight holes that could 
be used for strings. 

The construction of this Harp shows 
the artificer to have had considerable 
ingenuity. At the lower termination 
of the box a block 1|- in. deep is in- 
serted. A portion of this block projects 
2f in. in front ; into this projection 
the end of the fore-pillar is inserted. 
"Within the upper portion of the box 
there is a block 4 in. deep ; into this 
block the harmonic curve is inserted, 
not in the centre but considerably 
nearer to the right side than to the 
left ; that is the harmonic curve, which 
is 1^ in. wide, is 1|- in. from the right 
side, and 2f in. from the left side. 
The harmonic curve is inserted in the 
block from the front to the back of the 
box, the depth of the insertion being 
If in. At the lower termination the 
projection into which the fore-pillar is 
inserted is 2| in. from the right side and 4f in. from the left side. This 
arrangement allows the strings to be more perpendicular than they 
otherwise would have been. The leng-th of the box in front is 48 in., 
but at the back only 46 in. The sides at the lower termination are 
8|- in. deep, while at the upper extremity they are 6^ in. deep. The 
back, which is -^^ in. thick, is nailed to the sides and ends. 

The fore-pillar is curved ; there is no T formation, but it has in front 
a fairly deep moulding. At the lower termination it is If in. wide ; some- 
what higher it is l^ in. wide, and continues of that width to the upper 


extremity, when it takes a backward curve and terminates in a scroll, 
most of which has disappeared, but a portion is visible upon the right 
side. The extreme height is 4 ft. 3f in. 

The harmonic curve where it joins the box is 2f in. deep, afterwards 
2|- in. deep, and is 25 in. in length from the sounding-board. It is 
formed in the more modern fashion, and joins the fore-pillar nearer to 
the box than is usual. The extreme width of the instrument is dl^ in. 
The metal bands through which the tuning-pegs pass form single curves, 
and are pierced for forty-one tuning-pegs. There are no nuts or straining- 

As stated, the instrument has on the sounding-board thirty-eight 
serviceable string -holes. Supposing thirty-eight to have been the 
number, the shortest string would be 2f in. and the longest A2^ in. 
There are five holes in the treble without strings. Passing these, 
there are seventeen strings of steel wire, all of which gauge C, 1st oct. 
The first of these seventeen strings measures i^ in., and the seventeenth 
measures 16|- in. The eighteenth string, which is of brass, measures 
17f in., the gauge being between D and E, 4th oct. The following 
eight strings, including the twenty-sixth, are of the same gauge as 
the eighteenth. The twenty-seventh string gauges D, 4th oct. ; the 
twenty-eighth string, between D and E, 4th oct. ; the twenty-ninth, 
between E and F, 4th oct. ; the thirtieth, between D and E, 4th oct. ; 
the thirty-first and thirty -second, between E and F, 4th oct. The 
thirty-third is missing. 

This Harp is neatly made, but is not painted or decorated. It is 
not worn at the sides of the box, as it would have been had it been 
much used; and as it was presented to the museum as late as 1872, 
the strings may not be correct. It is a genuine, but late, specimen, and 
in form somewhat resembles the instrument Arthur O'Neill is re- 
presented as playing upon, but it is quite evident it is not that 
instrument. It is stated that the sounding-board of this Hai-p is of 
Swiss pine, but it resembles common deal. The wood used could not 
have been seasoned when placed upon the instrument. It is badly 
shrunk and cracked in seven different places. The remainder of the 
instrument is of beech wood and is much worm-eaten. 



A Harp of a late period, but of some interest, is in the possession of 
Professor Glover, of Dublin. It formerly belonged to Mary, Countess of 
Charlemont, wife of the Volunteer Earl. The Harp is green, and relieved 
by gilding ; the fore-pillar, which is straight and fluted, is surmounted 
by a coronet and scarlet cap. There are only twenty-eight strino-s. 
The height of the fore-pillar is 3 ft. 10 in.^ 

Two other wire-strung Harps of a somewhat later pei^iod may be 
seen in the Belfast and Dublin Museums. The first is of the Sheraton 
period, and is of little consequence. It is probably the Harp which 
was exhibited at Belfast in 1852 by Mr. E. Lindsay as "stated to be 
that of Hempson," but the instrument belonging to that harper has 
already been noticed as preserved at DownhiU. The second, which 
was sold to the Royal Irish Academy as the Harp of Carolan, is a 
fraud, and, as Petrie remarks, is " wholly unworthy of a place in the 
great museum in which it is deposited." 

The three last mentioned Harps are drawing-room instruments. 
Many such were doubtless constructed towards the close of the 
eighteenth century, when ladies still played the Irish Harp. 


The Harps made for the second Belfast Hai'p Society, Dr. Petrie 
states, as far as he was aware, were all made by Egan, the eminent 
Dublin Harp-maker. One of these, which has been noticed (p. 52) 
and is represented on the frontispiece, is 5 ft. 1 in. in height. The 
box, or more correctly speaking, the body, has a rounded back similar 
to that of a modern Pedal-Harp, and, like that instrument, the four 
sound-holes are also placed at the back. Those portions of the sides 
to which the sounding-board is attached are curved, and o-ive a 
longitudinal curve to the sounding-board. The sounding-board, which 
has the grain across the strings, has a raised string band and wire 
guards above the string-holes. Shamrocks painted green are distributed 
over a large portion of the surface, and also the Royal Arms and the 
following inscription upon it painted in red : — " Manufactured for the 

' Comraunieated by T. H. Longfield, Esq. 



Belfast Irish Harp Society, No. 1933, By Egan, Dublin, Harp Maker 
to His Majesty George iv. and the Royal Family." 

The width of the sounding-board at the lower termination is 15|^in., and 
at the upper extremity 3;^ in. The length is 4 ft. 1:|^ in. On the inner 
side the sounding-board is strengthened, not only by a string-band, but 
by two pieces of wood, attached longitudinally between the string-band 
and the sides. These extend almost the full length. The harmonic 
curve is consti'ucted out of a number of pieces of wood carefully joined. 
There are two complete pieces ; one of these is in the centre and the 
other at the right side. Between these, and on the left side, are several 
pieces joined together. There are nuts or straining-pegs for the strings, 
but the metal bands, through which upon the ancient Harps the tuning- 
pegs pass, not being required for a harmonic curve so constructed, 
are wanting. This portion of the instrument is, however, further 
strengthened and supported by an iron band which extends the 
entire length along the under side, to which it is attached by screw-nails. 
The fore-pillar, which is slightly curved, is without the T formation, but 
is formed of two pieces joined together. This has not had the effect of 
resisting the tension of the strings, so the upper portion of the fore- 
pillar leans somewhat towards the left. There are thirty-seven strings ; 
the shortest is 2f in. and the longest 4 ft. 5f in. When purchased in 
Dublin this Harp had a number of strings or portions of strings attached 
to it. There were, counting missing strings, twenty- one of steel and 
sixteen of brass wire. Some of the strings were of an incorrect gauge. 
The following appears to have been the original gauge : — 

1st string, 2f 

20th , 



, I7f 

22nd , 

, m 

26th , 

, 281 

27th , 

, 31i 


. 421 

23rd , 

, 44f 

37th , 

, 53f 



Steel, Gauge B, 1st. Oct. 

E, 2nd ,, 
Brass, „ D, Srd „ 

,, ,, C, 3rd ,, 

B, Srd „ 

It is interesting to note that upon ancient Harps, the boxes of which 


were formed out of solid blocks, when the tension of the strings drew the 
sounding-board upwards, the highest portion of the curve was usually 
near the centre string, whereas upon this specimen the treble alone has 
been affected by the tension, the curvature occurring between the first 
and twenty-fourth strings, and is highest at the ninth string. 
Dr. Petrie truly remarks that Egan's instruments have little of the 
beauty of the ancient Harps, and have " nothing about them to remind 
us of the loved Hai'p of other days." Still, it is unlikely any harper 
would be dissatisfied with the tone of the specimen described. 

Another of these Harps, that which had been played upon by a young 
harper, M'Loughlin (one of the Belfast scholars) when seated in front of 
O'Connell on the triumphal car on which he passed through the city of 
Dublin, in 1829, after the passing of the Emancipation Act, became the 
property of Dr. Petrie in the following year. 


This instrument was formerly the property of Mr. John Bell, a 
native of Scotland, who moved to Ireland early in life, and resided at 
Dungannon, and by whom it was exhibited at Belfast in 1852, and is 
described in the Catalogue, p. 7, as "the Harp of O'Kelly restored." 
In the Appendix, p. 11, there is the following statement: — "The 
Clarshach, or Harp of O'Kelly, was presented by Mr. Kelly of Barley- 
fields, near Dundalk, to Mr. Peter Collins, a well-known violinist. It 
fell into the possession of the present owner in 1812." While residing in 
Dungannon, Mr. Bell made an important collection of antiquities, which, 
on his return to Scotland, he brought with him, and such objects as were 
considered of value were purchased by Government in 1867, a few years 
before his death, and are now in the National Museum, Edinburgh. 

This Harp, stated to be the Harp of O'Kelly restored, appears to be to 
a considerable extent a reproduction of Hempson's Harp at Downhill, 
which was made by Cormac O'Kelly, but is very inferior to that instru- 
ment. It is probable that Mr. Kelly of Barleyfields, perhaps a connection 
of Cormac, wished to possess a copy of a genuine O'Kelly Harp, and had 
one niade. If he was familiar with the genuine O'Kelly he could scarcely 


have been pleased with the copy. Mr. CoUins then became its possessor. 
The date, 1812, at which period it is stated to have become the property 
of Mr. Bell, is most likely a printer's error, as that gentleman died about 
1870. As stated before, there can scarcely be a reasonable doubt that 
this Harp is a bad copy of the 0' Kelly Harp at Downhill. Both the 
Harps have the head termination of the fore-pillar, almost similar 
terminations of the lower portion of the box, similar ornamentation over 
the sound-holes, and similar terminations to the upper portion of the 
sounding-board.^ The box of the Edinburgh instrument is cut out of 
a solid block. The Harp has been strung, but shows no signs of 
having been used. It is comparatively modern, and would probably 
not be here noticed had it not been illustrated in Drummond's Scottish 
Weapons, a work of importance ; but as it has been illustrated in that 
work, the following measurements are given. From the upper portion 
of the treble termination of the harmonic curve to the end of the 
projecting block, 44|^ in. From the back of the box to the front of the 
serpent's (?) head, 32^^ in. Length of box, 38^ in. Width of sounding- 
board at the upper extremity, 4f in., at the lower termination, 10|^ in. 
Thickness of sounding-board at the lower sound-holes, ~{'^^ in., at the 
upper sound-hole, f in. There are six sound-holes. The sounding- 
board is convex throughout — rising at the lower end 1 in., at the centre 
1-g^ in., at the thirteenth string- hole -J in., and at the upper extremity 
f in. The sides of the box form straight lines. The depth at the upper 
extremity is i^ in., at the centre 4^ in., and at the lower termination 3f in. 
The length from the end of the projecting block to the highest portion 
of the harmonic curve is about 51 in. The raised string-band is pierced 
for thirty-four strings. The string-holes have triangular pieces of brass 
— the " shoes of the strings." These are without ornamentation, and 
are attached at each angle by nails. The metal bands through which 
the tuning-pegs pass are in the form of single curves and have each 
thirty-four holes, in which are thirty-four pegs. As this instrument 
was made, and the strings probably supplied, at a period when the 
Irish Harp was in use, the following gauge measurements, etc., may be 
of value : — 

' The person who made this Harp was presumably familiar with the Belfast Museum Harp. 



1st string, 2| in. long, 1 g^^^j^ q^^^^^ q^ ^^^ q^.^ 
lath „ 10^ „ i 





Steel, Gauge D, 2nd 


D, 3rd 

C, 4th 

At the sale, in March 1900, of the antiquities which had belonged to 
the late Dr. Fraser, what was stated to be a seventeenth century Irish 
peasant's Harp, of carved and painted wood, was disposed of The 
purchaser of the Harp has informed the writer that it has twenty-six 
string-holes and twenty-six holes for tuning-pegs. The box is built up 
or constructed of several pieces. The fore-pillar is curved, but has no 
T formation. The date ascribed is not likely to be correct. This Harp 
was described, and an illustration exhibited, at a meeting of the Royal 
Irish Academy in May 1879. 

Dr. Petrie tells us that for many years an aged harper periodically 
visited Castle Bellew, County Galway, and that Mr. and Mrs. Bellew 
were struck by the very ancient appearance of his Harp. It was small 
and simply ornamented, and had attached to the front of the fore-pillar 
a brass plate, on which was engraved the name of the maker and the 
date 1509. The harper had always declared his intention of bequeathing 
his Harp to his entertainers ; but a summer came during which he failed 
to appear, his Harp was not forwarded to his friends, and was never 
heard of again. If Mr. Bellew's statement regarding the date ^ is correct, 
this Harp was of importance as a link ; for between the Trinity College 
Harp and the Dalway we have no specimen, and do not know what 
change there may have been in the form of the instrument during up- 
wards of two centuries. Perhaps this ancient Harp may be hid away in 
some lumber-room of a country-house, and may yet be brought to light. 

1 The date is probably incorrect. Supposing it strings. The small Harps, although the sounding- 

to have been always strung and played upon, two boards have become curved, appear to have 

hundred and fifty or three hundred years would withstood the tension better than the larger 

be a long time for the sounding-board of a wire- instruments, 
strung Harp to withstand the tension of the 




Another Harp, which had been made for Captain Art Magennis, of 
the County Down, about 1725, Dr. Petrie (who had seen and examined 
it) states to have been of moderate size, about four feet in height, and 
a singularly beautiful instrument, decorated in a style which, were it not 
for the inscription attached to it, might be supposed to belong to an 
earlier period. The inscri23tion was in the Irish language and characters, 
written upon parchment, and placed under glass, upon the sounding- 
board. Dr. Petrie endeavoured to trace this Harp, but failed to do so.' 


The Harp illustrated in Walker's Irish Bards, and incorrectly 
reproduced in Ledwich's Antiquities of Ireland, was five feet in height ; 
had thirty-three strings, and was supposed to have been made of red sal- 
low. The engraving represents a harp with six 
sound-holes. The sounding-board terminates in 
semicircular curves on either side of the project- 
ing block. The fore-pillar, which is curved, 
has foliaceous decoration, and is surmounted 
by a carved head with flowing hair and beard. 
Foliaceous decoration similar to that upon the 
fore-pillar appears upon the harmonic curve. 
From an inscription upon the Harp we learn 
that it was "made by John Kelly in 1726." 
The drawing from which the engraving was 
made was by William Ousley, Esq., of 
Limerick ; and the Harp in Walker's time 
(1786) was in the possession of Mr. Jonathan 
Hehir of that city." Petrie was unable to 
state who the possessor of this instru- 
ment was when he prepared his notices of 
Irish Harps, and nothing is known by the writer concerning it. 

' O'Curry's Lectures, vol. iii. p. 296. Near the 
old church of Clonduff, County Down, there is 
a monumental stone, with arms, in memory of 
Captain Arthur Magenis of Cabrah, who died in 
1737, and hia wife, Catherin Magenis, aliat Hall, 

who had predeceased him in 1713. — Ulster 
Journal of Archajology, January 1901, p. 03. 

- Walker's Irish Bards, additional notes, pp. 
1-163. Petrie ia O'Curry's Lectures, vol. iii. 
p. 295. 




The Harp which belonged to this noted performer is not known to 
be extant, but a drawing representing him in the act of playing was 
engraved in outline for Bunting's collection 1809, and is here 

It is difficult from so small an illustration to come to any definite 
conclusion as to the formation of the instrument, but the box may 
certainly have been constructed out of several pieces. For instance, 
the side shown is not so deep at the 
upper extremity as it is at the lower 
termination, where, it may be remarked, 
it is shaped so as to form a stand. 
Supposing the engraving to correctly 
represent O'Neill's Harp, the box re- 
sembles that of the South Kensington 
specimen, but in the engraving no block 
appears into which the fore-pillar is 
inserted. The junction of the fore- 
pillar and the sounding-board is some- 
what similar to that already shown 
upon the Hollybrook Harp. The fore- 
pillar is curved, and at the upper 
extremity is bent backwards and ter- 
minates in a scroll. The junction of 
the fore-pillar and the harmonic curve 

is not indicated, nor are the bands through which the tuning-pegs 
pass ; but the pegs, of which there are thirty-four, take the line of a 
single curve. The sounding-board has no sound-holes, but there is a 
string-band, and thirty-three strings are shown. 

It is clear that the Harp in the Victoria and Albert Museum is not 
the instrument represented in the engraving. The writer understands 
that there is a larger engraving of O'Neill and his Harp, and that the 
instrument represented has the scroll termination to the fore-pillar. 
There is a tradition that a favourite harp of O'Neill was destroyed 
when the house of the O'Neills of Glenarb was burned ; if that 


is so, a new Harp would have been required, which may account for 
O'Neill being represented as playing upon what must have been a 
comparatively modern instrument. A small and reversed engraving 
of O'Neill may be seen in Bunting's collection of 1840, but for some 
unknown reason the engraver represented a kind of composite Harp, 
the junction of the fore-pillar and harmonic curve being of the ancient 
form, and that of the fore-pillar and box being modern. 

In the Ulster Journal of Archaeology for January 1901 there is an 
etching representing Arthur O'Neill playing upon a Harp. This illus- 
tration has been reproduced in the Irish Rosary for June 1901, and 
the writer thinks it desirable that it should be noticed. 

The etcher's representation of the harper is good, but it is not stated 
what engraving he had before him when the plate was executed. It 
may, however, be remarked that the illustration is presumably a copy 
of a copy, and the etcher may not be responsible for certain errors which 
appear upon that portion of the plate where the Harp is represented. It 
may also be noticed that the Harp at the period had usually thirty strings, 
and Arthur O'Neill is not likely to have possessed an instrument with 
only twenty-six strings, also that he could not have played upon a Harp 
with twenty-six strained strings and only twenty-five tuning-pegs. The 
etching shows no wooden or metal string-band upon the sounding-board, 
and no " shoes of the strings " are indicated ; further, the metal band 
through which the tuning-pegs pass is not likely to be correctly repre- 
sented at the bass termination. It may also be remarked that if the 
line of the back of the Harp and that of the right side of the sounding- 
board are continued the box of the Harp will be found to have a most 
unusual depth at the lower termination. 

It must be undex'stood that when the writer points out what appear 
to him to be defects, that these may have been represented upon the 
illustration the etcher had before him and have been faithfully copied by 
him, but when noticing an illustration of a Harp which as far as we know 
is not extant, it is desirable that such portions of the work as are 
apparently inaccurate should be pointed out. The drawing of the small 
outline engraving (reproduced) is fairly good. The statement that the 
Harp in the Belfast Museum belonged to Arthur O'Neill has already 
been noticed, pp. 86-88, and it is unnecessary to refer to it here. 


Arthur O'Neill was born at Drumnaslad near Dungannon in the 
County of Tyrone in 1734. He lost his sight by an accident when two 
years of age, and studied under Owen Keenan, a harper of note, and 
also under his distinguished namesake, Hugh O'Neill. At the age of 
fifteen he began to play as a professional, and when nineteen he had 
travelled through the four provinces and made the acquaintance of 
the chief families of Irish and English descent. Upon the establishment 
of the Belfast Harp Society in 1807 he was unanimously elected as the 
resident master. His memoirs, written by Bunting from dictation, were 
largely used by that writer, but are not known to be extant. O'Neill 
was proud of his descent, and had the right hand, the crest of his clan, 
engraved upon his coat buttons. Hardiman states that he always 
expected and received an extraordinary degree of attention on account of 
the antiquity and respectability of his tribe. He generally sat at table 
with the gentlemen he visited, and once at a public dinner at Belfast 

when Lord presided, his lordship made a kind of apology to O'Neill, 

and expressed regret at his being seated so low at the board. " Oh ! my 
lord," answered the harper, " apology is quite unnecessary, for wherever 
an O'Neill sits, there is the head of the table." ^ 

After the collapse of the Harp Society, O'Neill retired to his native 
country," and died at Maydown in the County of Armagh late in October 
or early in November 1816. A notice in the Belfast News-Letter states 
that he was ninety years of age, also that " his performance upon the Harp 
was unrivalled, and that he adhered tenaciously to the genuine style and 
simple taste of the Irish musical compositions, rejecting with disdain the 
corrupt ornament with which it has been loaded by modern performers." 
O'Neill was buried at Eglish near Dungannon, but there is no stone to 
mark the spot.^ 


During October 1834 Dr. O'Donovan visited Castle Caldwell, Fer- 
managh, where he examined and prepared a short Catalogue of the 

1 Irish Minstrelsy, vol. ii. note, p. 412, of Ireland, vol. ii. p. 459, which was most probably 

2 Bunting, coll. 1840. taken from the Belfast News-Letter. Bunting's 
2 Ulster Journal of Archaeology, January 1901. statement that he died in 181S is evidently in- 

A notice also appears in Richard Ryan's Worthies correct. — Coll. 1840, pp. 80, 81. 


Irish Antiquities then in the Museum. In this catalogue, under the 
heading No. 4, we find, " The Harp of an old minstrel of the name of 
O'Neill, famous in Ulster before the time of Carolan : it is 4 feet 5 inches 
high, and of a very graceful shape : it had 32 strings."^ 

We next hear of this Harp in 1852, when it and other objects of 
interest were exhibited by J. C. Bloomfield, Esq., of Castle Caldwell, and 
formed part of the large and important collection of antiquities which 
were on view in Belfast during the autumn of that year ; and in the 
Descriptive Catalogue, p. 44, it is noticed as "the Harp of the O'Neills."'^ 
The writer has endeavoured to trace this Harp, but without success. 
The Castle Caldwell collection of antiquities was disposed of many 
years since, and the Harp may have been parted with at the same time.^ 

This terminates the list, as far as the writer is aware, of such Harps 
as are known to be preserved or are missing. It ia singularly meagre. 
The loss of all but three of the splendidly decorated instruments 
constructed during the early portion of the seventeenth century or prior 
to that period may to a large extent have been caused by bands of 
barbarous marauders * who, Dr. Lynch tells us, in many places vented 
their vandal fury on every harp which they met with and broke it to 
pieces — but later on harps were again made and were numerous, for we 
know from Hempson that at the commencement of the eighteenth century 
" women as well as men were taught the Irish Harp in the best families, 
and every old Irish family had harps in plenty." * Also from O'Halloran 
that " in every house was one or two harps, free to travellers, who were 
the more caressed the more they excelled in music." Crofton Croker 
states that during the same period almost every one played on the Irish 
Harp, that is, the accomplishment was as common as pianoforte playing 
during the early portion of the following century." 

• Ordnance Survey MSS. of Ireland. Fer- late Mr. J. C. Bloomfield recollect the Harp as 

managh Letters, Royal Irish Academy Library. part of the Castle Caldwell collection, but do not 

- It is clear that this is not the O'Neill Harp, know its previous history. The collection appears 

now the property of the Royal Irish Academy, to have been removed to Dublin, where it was 

already noticed (see p. 82), as that Harp, part of probably disposed of. — Communicated by Hugh 

Major Sirr's Collection, was disposed of in 1841. Allingham, Esq., of Ballyshannon. 

3 Communicated by Thomas Pluukett, Esq., of i ^,Y^om Dr. Lynoh's editor supposes to have 

EnniskiUen. Mr. Plunkett visited the late Mr. been Cromwell's soldiers. 
Bloomfield on several occasions, but never heard 

him mention " the Harp of the O'Neills." The ' Bunting, coll. 1S4U, p. 74. 

writer understands that the near relatives of the ^ Kerry Pastoral, p. 16. 

Front a ^auitt/ig {?i eAr J^ofse/szon ofAirMardiman.Atttho?- of t/te History o/c^^/uriv. 

J'JIci?-t\'n. Sculp* Z)u6/tn 

AIE D Zj A If. 

Tlie C el e b r a.t e d Irish. JB ard, 

LORE Lieutenant oi' Ireland &.-. *<■ 

rtdk'/ict/ as r/ifj.t tiire^ts Ar<n' r/s. Miil.liyMr.Trhi, 54 ^-''ivm'r/ft.'iid l^iMy DabUt 

.Jh/m J/ff/ 'IV 


The ravages of wood- worms, the carelessness ot servants, and the 
destruction of property during the disturbances of 1798, followed by 
the sale of estates and the breaking-up of homes after the disastrous 
years of 1846-47 and '48, would account for the disappearance of many, 
but it is to be hoped that some of real interest may still be preserved, 
and may be brought to light. 

CAROLvysr's harp 

Regarding this Harp we have two distinct statements : one that 
Cardan's son carried it with him to Loudon,' the other that it had been 
preserved by the MacDermot Roe at Alderford, Roscommon, and that it 
had been burned by the servants of the house." Of these statements 
there can be no doubt that the latter is correct, as the present 
MacDermot Roe has obligingly informed the writer that he had heard 
from a lady, a near relative,^ that when on a visit to Alderford early in 
life she had been shown the charred remains of a Harp which was said 
to have belonged to Carolan.* 

In 1720 a portrait of Carolan was painted for the Very Rev. Charles 
Massey, Dean of Limerick. This portrait was supposed by Dr. Petrie to 
have been by Johann Van Der Hagen, a distinguished Dutch artist who 
visited Ireland about that period. The portrait was painted upon 
copper about eight inches by six inches, and was preserved in the Massey 
family until the death of General Massey at Paris in 1780, when it was 
brought back to Ireland. In 1809 it was sold to Walter Cox, who 
presented it to Thomas Finn of Carlo w.^ In 1840 it was in the possession 
of the late Sir Henry Marsh, Bart.'^ It cannot now be traced. 

During the time it was in the possession of Mr. Finn, James Hardrman 
states that he had an accurate copy made of it. The copy, not the 

' Walker, Appendix, p. 98. be traced. The writer, by giving publicity to this 

- Dr. Petrie in O'Curry's Lectures, vol. iii. fact, hopes that at some time it maybe restored 

p. 297. to its proper owner. Cardan's chair, which is in 

^ The late Madam De Mamiel. good preservation, is the only relic of the minstrel 

' Carolan's silver punch-bowl, upon which his now at Alderford. The writer has to thank the 

name was engraved, was also preserved at Alder- present MacDermot Roe for these particulars. 

ford. It disappeared suddenly many years since, ^ Hardiman's Irish Minstrelsy, vol. i. p. Ixi. 

and although every i nauiry was made it could not ^ Bunting's coll. 1840, p. 72. 


original, was engraved in 1822 by John Martyn and again about 1830 by 
J. Rogers. In 1840 Bunting published a very small wood engraving 
which he stated was from the original picture. All these engravings 
show a portion of Cardan's Harp. The original artist was probably not 
familiar with the Irish Harp, and either he or the copyist blundered, and 
it appears that either one or other of the engravers blundered also. That 
being so, it is difficult to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion as to the 
construction of the instrument. The three engravings represent the 
strings as they certainly could not have been upon the Harp, and 
the engravings differ as to the number of the strings. The two large 
engravings show the same form of box, while upon the woodcut much 
more of the sounding-board is visible. At first sight the box would appear 
to have been constructed of several pieces, but as the Harp was probably 
the one Carolan possessed in 1691 when he began to visit country 
houses, it may not have been so formed. The Harp already noticed as 
number 2 in the collection of the Royal Irish Academy has the harmonic 
curve sunk in the centre of the upper portion of the box, and the 
Bunworth Harp is constructed in a similar manner, so the artist may 
have meant to represent this peculiarity.^ The Bunworth instrument 
has the harmonic curve springing from the box at almost a right angle, 
and it continues as a straight line for some distance. This peculiarity 
is very distinctly represented in the large engravings of Carolan. 

Both Walker and Bunting state that Carolan was not a remarkable 
Harp player. This is not surprising, as we learn from Hardiman that 
he did not begin to play the instrument until he was seventeen ; but 
although not a noted performer,' he was not only a distinguished 
composer, but a poet and singer of some note. Many of his songs, and 
also the melodies he composed and to which they were sung, have been 
preserved, but numbers have unfortunately been lost. That his music 
was extremely popular during the eighteenth century is undoubted. 
One harper who performed at Belfast in 1792 and had never been in his 
company, or been taught by any one who had had an opportunity of 
imitating him, had acquired upwards of one hundred of his melodies, 
which he then asserted constituted an inconsiderable portion of them.^ 

1 See also the John Kelly Harp (p. 110). ' Bunting, coll. 1796, p. 3. 

'' Walker, Appendix, p. 69. 


Bunting states that Carolan did not teach the Harp to any one except 
his son, who had no musical genius, and that, as far as was known, none 
of his compositions were committed to writing until several years after 
his death, and it appeared possible that nine-tenths of the whole had 
been irreparably lost.' 

Thurlough O'Carolan was born at Nobber, Westmeath, in 1670, and 
died at Alderford House, Roscommon, on the 25th March 1738. The 
wake, which lasted for four days, was attended by an immense concourse 
of people, and the Harp, which was in general use at the period, " was 
heard in every direction." " Carolan, the last composer who wrote for 
the Irish Harp, was interred near the church of Kilronan. All that is 
known about him has been noticed by Walker, Bunting, Hardiman, and 
Conran, so it is unnecessary to repeat the statements made by these 

In 1784 it was proposed that a concert should be held in the 
Rotunda, Dubhn, in commemoration of Carolan,^ and although the 
suggestion was not then followed up, a musical commemoration was held 
in the Rotunda in 1809, when the programme mainly consisted of the 
minstrel's most popular pieces, and so many were desirous of being 
present, that it was found necessary to repeat the concert within the 
week.* Carolan is stated to have had one son, who taught the Irish 
Harp in London, and who, before his departure, published by subscrip- 
tion in 1747 a collection of his father's melodies, omitting some of the 
best pieces. This collection without the preface was republished by 
John Lee in 1780^ and another edition, but not from the same plates, 
was published by Hume, 34 College Green, about 1810, and a fourth 
by Broderip and Wilkinson.* Many of Carolan's best pieces may be 
found in Ancient Music of Ireland, by Edward Bunting, colls. 1796, 
1809, 1840. 

' Hardiman states that he is supposed to have after the priest ended it, he sang a^ain, and 

composed upwards of two hundred musical pieces, played a piece which he denominated the Eesur- 

vol. i. p. Ivi. From Walker Ave learn that he rection. His enthusiasm of devotion affected the 

composed several pieces of sacred music, which whole congregation.'' Walker, Appendix, p. 91. 
were deemed excellent. "On Easter-day (says - Hardiman's Irish Minstrelsy, vol. i. p. Ixv. 

Mr. O'Conor) I heard him play his composition ^ Walker, Appendix, p. 66. 

at Mass." He called the piece Gloria in Excelsis * Hardiman, vol. i. p. Ixviii. 

Deo, and he sang that hymn in Irish verses as he ° Walker, Appendix, p. US. 

played. At the Lord's Prayer he stopped; and '■ Catalogue of Musical Loan Exhibition, 1899. 



The Kev. Charles Bunworth of Baltdaniel, County Cork, and Rector 
of Buttevant, whose Harp has ah-eady been noticed, was most kind and 
hospitable to the harpers who went the round of country houses during 
the middle of the eighteenth century. One by one these minstrels died 
off, leaving to their old friend and entertainer the Harps they had played 
upon for so long, and at the time of Mr. Bunworth's death about 1770 
there were fifteen of these Harps deposited in the loft of the granary. 
Unfortunately the family removed to Cork for a temporary change, and 
before their return the whole of the fifteen Harps, no doubt many of 
them extremely interesting and valuable specimens, were broken up for 
firewood by the servant who had been left in charge of the house ; ^ so, by 
the stupidity of one individual more genuine Irish Harps were destroyed 
than are now known to be extant ! Mr. Bunworth, besides being a 
fine performer upon the Harp, had an extensive knowledge of Irish music. 
He is not known to have left notes of the Harp music with which he 
was so familiar, but if any such collection was made by him it would 
be most valuable now. 


One of the most valuable of the Harps extant at the commencement 
of the nineteenth century was found about 1805 in the bog of Drawling 
near Limerick, upon the property of Sir Richard Harte. It was, when 
discovered, twelve feet under the surface, was made of red sallow, 
and had three brass strings and several tuning-pegs attached to it. 
It was about thirty inches long and ten broad, and was totally different 
in construction from the instrument in use at the commencement of the 
nineteenth century, so it probably resembled the Trinity College Harp. 
From Sir Richard Harte it passed to Dr. O'HaUoran, on whose death 
it was thrown into a lumber-room, from whence it was removed by 
a servant and used as firewood.^ 

1 The Worthies of Ireland, Charles Ryan, p. ' Bunting, coll. 1809, note, p. 26 ; coll. 1840, 

228 ; Crcker's Fairy Legends, Edn. 1828, pji. 189, note, p. 20. 


Dr. Petrie supposed this Harp to have been not less than one 
thousand years old, but this supposition was grounded solely upon 
the fact of its having been found twelve spits or spadings below the 
surface.^ In an interesting paper, the late Sir Robert Christison, Bart., 
when referring to the causes and sometimes comparatively rapid growth 
of peat-bogs, and the unwisdom of accepting the depth at which objects 
of interest may be found as evidence of great antiquity, remarks : " There 
ought therefore to be an end for the present to all inferences of extreme 
antiquity for objects of human workmanship, merely because found 
at the bottom of peat-mosses previously undisturbed. It would probably 
indeed be, in most instances, safer to say that the antiquity of such 
objects gives some insight into the age of the superincumbent peat, 
than that any peat-field presents in itself any such characters of age as 
will prove antiquity in the objects found under it." " As no critical 
examination by competent persons was made of the Limerick Harp, 
and no drawing preserved, it is not safe to accept the age ascribed 
by Dr. Petrie to this most interesting find. But if we cannot accept 
the conclusion that kindly Irishman and distinguished antiquary arrived 
at, we may, as he did, " stiU indulge the hope that the bogs, which have 
preserved for us so many interesting remains, may still conserve and 
present to us a specimen " of the ancient Irish Harp.' 


The follo\\niig interesting note, which appeared during 1806 in The Wild Irish Girl by 
Sydney Owenson (afterwards Lady Morgan), has recently come to the writer's notice : — 

"As the modern Irish Harp is described in a letter I have just received from a very 
eminent modern Irish bard, ]\Ir. O'Neil, I beg leave to quote the passage which relates to 
it : — ' My harp has thirty-six strings of four kinds of vnre, increasing in strength from 

• O'Curry's Lectures, vol. iii. p. 291. held upon the 8th July 1863, a photograph of a 

^ Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of portion of an ancient Irish Harp was exhibited by 

Scotland, 1880-81, p. 170. Arthur Gerald Geoghegan, Esq., Londonderry. 

' A fragment which seems to have been the The Harp is stated to have been found at the 

harmonic curve of a very small Harj) has recently bottom of a bog at Taughboyne, Co. Donegal, 

been found in the Cannogue of Carncoagh, County The woodwork crumbled to dust, but a fragment 

Antrim, and is illustrated in the Journal of the shown by the photograph, and described by Mr. 

Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, 30th Geoghegan as "the iron framework of the Clair- 

June 1897, p. 114. The fragment is 1.'5 in. seach," was then in his possession. The writer is 

long and 1| in. broad, and has 13 peg-holes. At indebted to W. J. Browne, Esq., Londonderry, 

a meeting of the Kilkenny Archaeological Society, for endeavouring to trace this fragment. 


treble to bass : your method of tuning yours ^ (by octaves and fifths) is perfectly correct ; 
but a change of key, or half tones, can only be effected by the tuning-hammer. I remem- 
ber in this neighbourhood fifteen ladies proficients on the Irish Harp ; two in particular 
excelled, a Mrs. Bailly and a Mrs. Hermar ; ^ but all are now dead ; so is Rose Mooney (a 
professional bardess), who was likewise celebrated. Fanning I knew, and thought well of 
his performance.' " 

This letter would be most valuable had O'Neil mentioned the notes to which he tuned 
the thirty-six strings, and also the number of steel strings which were upon his harp. 
The Belfast Museum instrument, which has thirty-six tuning-pegs, as already stated, was 
apparently the property of "Edu Lindse " in 1804,^ and consequently is not likely to be 
the instrument possessed by O'Neil in 1806. 


The scale and tuning of the Irish Harp with thirty strings during the 
eighteenth century will be found upon p. 38, from which it appears there 
was no F in the lower bass when the instrument was tuned in the 
natural key called " Leath Glass" (the key of G), but when the in- 
strument was to be tuned to the Falling string or high bass key called 
" Teadleaguidhe " (the key of C), the harper could, if the melody required 
it, tune the E string in the lower bass to F, the sharp F's throughout the 
instrument being lowered a semitone. It appears from this, that M'hen 
the sharp F's were used, there was no F in the lower bass, and when the 
sharp F's were lowered a semitone there might be either E or F in the 
lower bass, but that these two notes could not occur in the same melody, 
also that there could not be an accidental in either treble or bass. 

The writer has examined several collections of harmonised Irish music, 
and in all of these impossible harp notes occur more or less frequently. As 
the melodies in Bunting's three collections ^ were to a large extent noted 
from the playing of harpers, and as the copyright has expired, the writer 
has selected from them and others some specimens for illustration, from 
which a few impossible notes have been omitted. These melodies, as 
harmonised, may not be true to their scales, but as reproduced they 
could be played upon the wire-strung Irish Harp with thirty strings, 
and that is of the first importance. 

1 The Harp here referred to was purchased by ^ Lady Morgan's grandmother, Mrs. MacOwen 

Miss Owensou from Egan in 1S05. She performed (Owenson), whose maiden name was Sydney 

upon it in Lady Cork's drawing-room in 1806. Crnftou Bell, also a noted performer, was known 

It was probably strung with gut, as during the as " Clasagli na Valla," The Harp of the Valley, 

latter year she wrote to Walker and O'Neil for ' See pp. 87, 88, 111, 112. 

information regarding the wire-strung instrii- * Bunting's Coll I. appeared in 1796, Coll. II. 

ment. in 1809, and Coll. III. in 1840. 




An ancient Prelud" for the Harp, as performed by Hempson.— ^'w p. 91. 
Mad: r= 100 Pen: 12 Inches. BUNTING. COLL III. 

N9 I 





Mael: r ^ 96 Pen: 14 Inches. Very Ancient . 

N9 II. 


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During the early forties of the nineteenth century two Edinburgh 
artists, Messrs. D. O. Hill and Robert Adamson, produced from waxed 
paper negatives a number of portraits by what was then known as the 
"calotype" process. A blind Irish harper who had for a considerable 
period played at Edinburgh and throughout Fife was one of the sitters. 
This harper's name was Byrne, and at the time his portraits were taken, 
1843 or 1844, he was about sixty years of age. A number of negatives 
of Byrne are in the possession of Mr. Andrew Elliot of Princes Street, 
Edinburgh, and with his kind permission one of them has been printed 
by the collotype process. Bunting's third collection appeared in 1840, 
and if the reader turns to p. 11 of that work he will find a description 
of the dress and conical cap used by a harper about 1750. This perhaps 
suggested the purely fancy dress Byrne is represented as wearing. The 
slightly conical head-dress, which appears upon the ground on some of 
the negatives, may be a mediaeval head-piece. A number of ivy leaves 
are upon the harper's head. Besides portraits of Byrne in this fancy 
dress, there are others in a swallow-tailed evening coat and trousers. 

The harp is of the same form as that supplied by J. Egan to the 
Belfast Irish Harp Society, represented in the Frontispiece, but the orna- 
mentation is much superior. Upon the upper portion of the fore-pillar 
and also upon the harmonic curve shamrocks are represented, and there 
is an excellent scroll design with shamrocks upon either side of the 
sounding-board. There are thirty-seven tuning-pegs, but only thirty-two 
strings, so five tuning-pegs in the treble are without strings. If the 
reader turns to p. 52, note 3, he will find the supposed tuning of Egan's 
harp with thirty-seven strings. The absence of five strings upon Byrne's 
harp tends to show that the tuning there given is correct, as upon 



Byrne's harp the first treble string was probably D, the highest note 
upon Bunting's scale. So the additional strings in the treble were dis- 
carded, as they wei-e probably not required for the music Byrne played ; 
while the two additional strings, A and B in the bass, which are shown 
upon the supposed scale, were retained.^ 

Besides throwing light upon the tuning of the large Irish Harp, 
these portraits of Byrne are of interest, as they are perhaps the only 
sun pictures that were taken of an Irish harper ; but although they are 
all different, the position of the hands in each case is the same, i.e. in 
none of the portraits are the thumbs erect.^ If the reader examines 
the representations of Irish harper's it will be seen that only one, 
that upon the Shrine of St. Moedoc, shows the thumb in an erect 
position. So the harpers, whether they used their nails or the fleshy 
portions of their thumbs, probably plucked the strings when the thumbs 
were either somewhat bent, or in a more horizontal position than is now 
usual. If the Irish harpers held the thumbs in a somewhat horizontal 
position, they may by so doing have to some extent prevented the 
jarring of the sti-ings ; so those who may attempt to play upon a wire- 
strung harp would do well to test this manner of playing before ac- 
quiring a method which, although correct when the harp is strung with 
gut, may not be desirable upon a wire-strung instrument. 

The writer does not know of any person who can give information 
regarding Byrne.^ He was probably born about 1784 ; and if that 
date can be accepted, he would have begun to learn the harp during 
1794 or 1796, and have started as a professional in 1803. When 
the second Irish Harp Society was instituted at Belfast in 1819, it 
was found that there were no harpers who had not been taught by 

1 It is the writer's opinion tliat, in the event of fingers upon the same strings in both the treble 

a revival of the wire-strung Irish Harp, Bunting's and the bass. If the supposed tuning is correct, 

tuning for a harp with thirty strings should be the key is AJ] minor, which, although imperfect 

adhered to ; and, in addition to the thirty strings, upon the Irish Harp, was used by the harpers (see 

there should be three others in the treble, and two p. 39). This, however, may be unintentional, as 

others in the bass ; for amongst Irish music there on the other photographs Byrne's fingers do not 

may be quite a number of melodies, such as the appear to grasp harmonious strings in the treble 

beautiful Londonderry Air, restored and bar- and bass. 

monised by Dr. Culwich, which could only be ^ An endeavour was made to obtain informa- 

played upon a harp with additional strings in tion regarding Byrne, but the queries forwarded 

the treble. to the editor of an Ediubiirgli journal do not 

" One of these photographs shows the harper's appear to have been inserted. 




Arthur O'Neill, the Master of the first Society, 1807-1813. Byrne may 
have left Ireland before 1819, and if taught by O'Neill it must have 
been before the fii'st Society was established. Charles Byrne, who 
played at Belfast in 1792, would have been about seventy when the 
younger Byrne was born, so is scarcely likely to have been his father. 
Six of the ten harpers who appeared at Belfast in 1792 were alive during 
the time the younger Byrne was probably learning the instrument, so he 
may have had opportunities of hearing really good performers. He 
appears to have carried on the traditions of the eighteenth-century 
harpers, as he is believed to have only played in pi-ivate houses and at 

W \J// 


' Tbe ornamentation is incised, and is similar 
in character to that which occurs upon the 
Trinity College Harp, plate, p. 56, the harp 
represented upon the stone at Keills, plate, p. 
154, and 'the "Queen Mary Harp," plate vi., 

p. 176. The illustration is from a sketch taken 
at a distance. As the key of the gate had been 
removed to Dublin during 1904, a rubbing could 
not be obtained. 



The Harp from a remote period was one of the most prized of the 
musical instruments in use in Scotland. The frequent intercourse 
between Ireland and the Western Islands, specially lona, accounts for 
its early introduction to those islands, and so rapidly did the Scots 
adopt and master the instrument that we find Giraldus Cambrensis 
(b. 1146, d. 121G), remarking that " Scotland, in consequence of intercourse 
and affinity, strives with rival skill to emulate Ireland in Music. Ireland, 
indeed, employs and delights in only two instruments, the Harp and the 
Tabor: Scotland in three, the Harp, Tabor, and Chorus."^ Further, 
"In the opinion of many at this day (1185) Scotland has not only 
equalled, but even far excels, her mistress, Ireland, in musical skill ; 
wherefore they seek there also the fountain, as it were, of their art." ' 

From John Major, who published his Greater Britain in 1521, we learn 
that " for musical instruments and vocal music the wild Scots use the 
Harp whose strings are of brass, and not of animal gut ; and on this they 
make the most pleasing melody." '" 

This writer, when describing James I., states that he was "a well 
skilled musician, and a singer second to none, with the Harp, like 
another Orpheus. He surpassed the Irish and the wild Scots, who are 
in that art pre-eminent. It was in the time of his long captivity in 
France and England that he learned these accomplishments."'^ The 
manner in which the evening was passed by this sovereign shortly before 
his assassination is thus described : " So both afore soper and long after 
ynto quarter of the nyght in the which the Erie of Athetellas and 
Robert Steward were aboute the Kyng wher thay wer occupied att the 
playing of the chesse att the tables, yn redyng of Romans, yn syngyng 

1 Giraldus. T. Forester gives for the last - Edn. 1892, p. 50. 

mentioned, Growth or Crowd. — Bond's traus., ^ Ibid., p. 366. 

p. 127. 


and pypyng, yn harpyng and in other honest solaces of grete pleasance 
and disport." ^ 

George Buchanan, whose history was published in 1582, when 
describing the customs of the Western Islands, states that the inhabi- 
tants " are exceedingly fond of music, and employ harps of a peculiar 
kind, some of which are strung with brass, and some with catgut. In 
playing they sti'ike the wires either with a quill,- or with their nails, 
suffered to grow long for the purpose ; but their grand ambition is to 
adorn their harps with great quantities of silver and gems, those who 
are too poor to afford jewels substituting crystals in their stead. Their 
songs are not inelegant, and, in general, celebrate the praises of brave 
men; their bards seldom choosing any other subject."^ 

An anonymous writer, who treats of " Certain matters concerning the 
Realme of Scotland as they were a.d. 1597," although he follows 
Buchanan, throws some additional light upon the instruments. " They 
delight much in Musicke, but chiefly in Harpes and Clariachoes [i.e. Irish 
Harps] of their own fashion. The strings of their Claischoes are made of 
brasse wyre, and the strings of the Harpes of sinews."^ 

From the Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer of Scotland much 
important information may be obtained regarding the musical instru- 
ments in use in Scotland during the reigns of James iii. and iv., and the 
manner in which the long evenings were rendered less tedious by morris- 
dancers, acrobatic performances, chamber music, etc. 


In Ireland, as already noticed, outside the district known as the 
Pale, persons called Bards were not recognised as educated poets, but 
were apparently " common jesters and rimers," reciters of poetry not 

1 The Death e of the Kynge of Scotes, p. 54. the Western Islands he principally follows Donald 
— Maitland Club. Monro (Archdeacon of the Isles), a pious and 

- It is probable that Buchanan meant that the diligent person who travelled all over those 

harpers pulled the strings with their finger-nails islands, and viewed them exactly. In Monro's 

in the same manner as the plectrum was used for account of the Isles there is nothing relating to 

other instruments strung with wire. This is the music or musical instruments, 

writer's opinion, and apparently that of others, ■• This passage apparently explains the dififer- 

See Musical Memoirs of Scotland ( Dalyell), note, ence between the two instruments, of which 

P- 2.33. frequent notices occur during the reign of 

2 Translation by James Aikman, vol. i. p. 41, James iv. 
Edn. 1S27 Buchanan states that in his notice of 


necessarily their own composition. The Scottish Bards were probably 
the same.^ In both countries, however, a Bard during the sixteenth 
century may have been a minor poet. Martin, in his Description of the 
Islands of Scotland, states that the chieftains of the Isles each retained 
a " physician, orator, poet, bard, musicians, etc. ;"" it is plain, then, that 
poet and bard were not synonymous terms in Scotland. 

Bards appeared before James iv. at Balquidder,^ Edinburgh,* and 
Inchmahome. At the last-mentioned place " Duncane Campbell's bard 
received vl" ^ 

Story-tellers amused the King when the Court was at Edinburgh,'' 
also at Durrisdeer ; " but one of these story-tellers, James Weddirspune, 
was a Court fiddler,- so he may have attended the King during his 
expeditions. We certainly hear of him at Aberdeen as " tale tellair." ^ 

There are a considerable number of notices of Singers, both female 
and male, who entertained the King, but there is apparently only one 
instance where the voice was accompanied by an instrument." These 
vocalists appeared before the King at Edinburgh," Stirling," Setoun," 
Balquidder,'^ Darnaway,^^ Dumfries,''^ Canonby," Lochmaben,^- White- 
kirk,*' Ayr,^" Linlithgow,'* Inverness,"" Elgin,^^ Penpont,'* Penninghame," 
Dumbarton,-* Biggar,^' and Perth. "^ One of these, apparently a comic 
vocalist, was known as " Wantonnes." Upon the occasion of her first 
appearance (16th February 1506-7) the King was so pleased that he 
" fechit and gert hir sing in the Queues chamir." For each appearance 
upon that evening she was separately paid."' We have no knowledge of 

1 "To the Bard belongs his tongue." — Gaelic '- Treasurer's Accounts, vol. i. pp. 329, 330; 
Proverbs, edited by Alex. Nicolson, Edu. 18S1, vol. ii. p. 146. 

p.2b2. " He is as fluent as a Bard."— Ibid., p.356. '^ Ibid., vol. i. p. 389. 

2 Edn. 1716, p. 109. h Ibid., vol. ii. p. 120. 

3 Treasurer's Accounts, vol. ii. p. 119. "^ Ibid., vol. ii. p. 126 ; vol. iii. pp. 170, 345. 
* Ibid., vol. ii. p. 132. w ibid., vol. ii. p. 421. 

= Ibid., vol. iv. p. 402. " Ibid., vol. ii. p. 454. 

" Ibid., vol. i. p. 176 ; vol. ii. pp. 412-472. w Ibid., vol. ii. p. 458 ; vol. iii. pp. 130, 194. 

' Ibid., vol. iii. p. 373. " Ibid., vol. ii. p. 469. 

8 Ibid., vol. ii. p. 102. 2" Ibid., vol. iii. p. 146. 

" Ibid., vol. ii. p. 129. :i Ibid., vol. iii. pp. 162, 334; vol. iv. p. 342. 

" Ibid., vol. ii. p. 120. We certainly hear on 22 xbid., vol. iii. p. 170. 

two occasions of fiddlers and singers (Ibid., -^ Ibid., vol. iii. p. 345. i. p. 330, vol iv. p. 127), but in neither -4 ibid., vol. iii. p. 373. 

case can we be certain that the instrument -'' Ibid., vol. iii. p. 374. 

accompanied the voice. -« Ibid., vol. iii. pp. 383, 391. 

"Ibid., vol. i. p. 279; vol. iii. pp. 196, 27 ibid., vol. iii. p. 409. 

197-198. 28 Ibid., vol. iii. p. 416. -' Ibid., p. 369. 


her again singing before the Queen ; but a few weeks later " Wan tones 
and hir marowis that sang with hir" were heard by the King,^ and 
during the following month they appeared before him at Peebles,^ and 
upon April 6th at Edinburgh.^ 

During 1511, November 16th, these old favourites were again heard 
in the King's chamber at Linlithgow/ Upon December 7th^ and 
February 24th, 1511-12,^ they were at Edinburgh; and during 1512, 
April 28th ^ and July 20th,' they were again at Linlithgow. 


The Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer commence during 1473, 
and as they are the only source of information, we must receive what 
can be gleaned from them regarding Music and Musical Instruments 
during the concluding fifteen years of the reign of James iii. 

It may be accepted that the King retained one or more performers 
upon the lute,'* and as the best tuition was to be obtained abroad, we 
know that one young minstrel, " the Kingis litle lutare," was sent to 
Bruges apparently for instruction/" No other instrument is mentioned, 
the ti'umpet excepted," which was required for accompanying heralds, etc. 

From the early portion of the reign of James iv. musicians received 
considerable encouragement. The King was himself a performer upon 
the Lute ^^ and upon the Clavychordes, and played upon these instru- 
ments either at Newbattle or Dalkeith during his first interview with 
his future Queen.^^ He was certainly fond of music, and we have frequent 

• Treasurer's Accounts, vol. iii. p. 372. " Tytler, Edn. 1864, vol. ii. p. 271. Mr. 

- Ibid., vol. iii. p. 377. Gunn seems to have supposed that the word 

^ Ibid., vol. iii. p. 379. uiay have been incorrectly printed, and may be 

■• Ibid., vol. iv. p. 316. " Clarischord " (Gunn's Enquiry, note, p. 72), 

= Ibid., vol. iv. p. 318. but a Clavichord, although not so portable as 

" Ibid., vol. iv. p. 332. a Clarscha, might (if James possessed one) 

^ Ibid., vol. iv. p. 342. have been easily conveyed to Newbattle or 

' Ibid., vol. iv. p. 349. Dalkeith. It was besides a comparatively simple 

'■' Ibid., vol. i. pp. 59, 67, 69. instrument, and any organist could have taught 

1° Ibid., vol. i. pp. 59-60. the King to play upon it. On the other hand, it 

'1 Ibid., vol. i. pp. 61-68. is improbable that the King, who was so frequently 

'2 1496, November 7th, "to Johne Jamesoun, upon the move, could have performed even toler- 

for a lute to the King vj s viij S. — Treasurer's ably upon so exceptionally difficult an instrument 

Accounts, vol. i. p. 307. 1507, "forFranch lut as the Clarscha. In 1502 "a payer of Clavy- 

stringis," etc. — Ibid., vol. iii. p. 398. A lute was cordes " cost £4. — Expenses of Elizabeth of York, 

purchased in Handera for the King which cost p. 41 ; Dalyell's Musical Memoirs, p. 264. 

£2, 5s.— Ibid., vol. ii. p. 445. 


notices of Harps and Clarschas, Drums,^ Organs, Trumpets, Pipes or 
Shalms, Fiddles, Lutes, and Monochordis.^ 

In 1494 Pate, a harper, and four other musicians are mentioned.^ 

During the following year, 1494-5, "Jacob Lvitare" was apparently 
one of the household, and received the considerable payment of £3, 12s.* 
The number of musicians was gradually increased; and in 1496, April 
25th, another harper, James Mylsone, is mentioned.^ 1497, March 28th, 
three harpers and twelve other musicians were paid.® 

Later on the King, who had previously upon several occasions heard 
the Clarscha, or Irish Harp, was apparently pleased with the perform- 
ances, for we find during 1501, December 19th, " Pate^ Harper Clarscha" 
attached to the household.^ During April of this year three harpers, 
two Clarschas, the two common pipers of Edinburgh, and sixteen other 
musicians, received gratuities.^ 

1501-2, January 1st. Four harpers, one Clarscha, the two pipers 
of Edinburgh, the common piper of the Canongate, and twenty-three 
other musicians, received payment.^" 

1502-3, January 1st. Four harpers and twelve other musicians were 
with the King at Arbroath." 

April 18th. Three harpers, one Clarscha, and sixteen other musicians 
received gratuities ; ^^ and upon October 31st four loud minstrels were 
paid xxviii s.^^ 

1503. During the closing month of this year we first hear of the 
four " Itahan Menstralis"" who frequently accompanied the King upon 
his expeditions. These minstrels, we afterwards learn, were pipers ^^ or 
" Schawmiris."^'^ They were well paid, and had a servant called Nesbit to 
attend upon them." 

' A pair of "tympanes" were purchased for find "Pate Sinclair," the next entry being "to 

the King. — Treasurer's Accounts, vol. ii. p. 392. the said Patrick." 

2 Two of these instruments were purchased in * Treasurer's Accounts, vol. ii. p. 55. 
Flanders for the King, each costing £2, 5s. — Ibid., '■' Ibid., vol. ii. pp. 102-3. 

vol. ii. p. 445. For a notice of the monochord, '" Ibid., vol. ii. p. 131. 

see Songs of Scotland Without Words, Intn., p. v. •' Ibid., vol. ii. p. 353. 

3 Ibid., vol. i. pp. 232-309. '^ ibij^ y^i n p 357. 
1 Ibid., vol. i. p. 237. He is afterwards '^ Ibid., vol. ii. p. 404. 

frequently mentioned. i' Ibid., vol. ii. p. 318. 

5 Ibid., vol. i. pp. 273-304. is jbid., vol. iii. pp. 96, 115, 145. 

8 Ibid., vol. i. pp. 326-7. i" Ibid., vol. iii. pp. 132. Schawmiris were 

" Pate is occasionally used as the diminutive of pipes, wind instruments similar to clarionets. 

Peter and also Patrick. In vol. ii. p. 197 we '' Ibid., vol, iii. p. 138. 


The English nobles who, early in August 1503, accompanied the 
young Queen, brought with them a number of musicians. One named 
Bountas, a performer upon the " Cornut," ^ probably a novelty, was 
apparently appreciated, as he played in the Queen's chamber,^ and 
remained at Court until the 7th February 1503-4.^ The Queen, herself 
a musician,* had her own lute-player, John Ca mner, a highly paid 
performer,'^ who is frequently mentioned/ 

1503-4, January 1st. Four harpers, one Clarscha, the common 
pipers of Edinburgh, and twenty-one other musicians, were paid.* 
In April a Moor, or coloured drummer, " More (taubronar) " ® is first 
noticed. This musician invariably accompanied the King. During 
August when James made his well-known expedition to Eskdale, he 
was accompanied by James Mylson and Alexander, two of his harpers,'" 
the four Italian minstrels, and " More taubonar." " He also had Organs, 
probably Regals, carried with him.'^ 

1504-5, January 1st. Three harpers, two Clarschas, the two 
pipers of Edinburgh, and twenty - four other musicians, received 

1505. On and after December 16th, "four childir that playis on the 
schalmes " are first noticed, their liveries costing £7, 8s. 3d." 

1505-6, January 1st. The minstrels who received payment numbered 
forty-eight.''^ April 14th, five harpers, four Clarschas ; two new arrivals, 
a "French quhessillar" and an " Inglis pipar with the drone," together 
with thirty-four other minstrels, are mentioned."' 

1507, August 16th. Five French minstrels, who received the same 
pay as the Italians, are first noticed.'" 

1 Treasurer's Accounts, vol. ii. p. 312. '" Treasurer's Accounts, vol, ii. p. 450. 

2 Ibid., pp. 398, 399, 403, 412. " Ibid., vol. ii. p. 451. 

3 Ibid., p. 418. '- Ibid., vol. ii. p. 456. 
* During the second interview between the ''' Ibid., vol. ii. p. 472. 

King and the Princess, the former upon bended '■• Ibid., vol. iii. pp. 109-10. The instruments 

kuee listened to her performance. — Tytler, Edn. were pipes, and are supposed to have been some- 

1864, vol. ii. p. 271. thing like the modern clarionet. 1505-6, Januarj' 

5 Treasurer's Accounts, vol. iii. pp. 123-151. 9th : "the boyis that playis on the Schawmes" 

" £11,133. 4d. half-yearly.— Ibid., vol. ii. p. 337. received xiiij 5.— Ibid., vol. iii. p. 179. Again on 

' There is one reference to " the Quenis four 24th February the same sum. — Ibid., vol. iii. pp. 

menstrales that remauit with her."— Ibid., vol. ii. 183, 199, 202, 307. 
p 337. '* Ibid., vol iii. i). 178. 

8 Ibid., vol. ii. p. 412. '" Ibid., vol. iii. p. 190. 

» Ibid., vol. ii. p. 427. " Ibid., vol. iii. p. 406. 


1506-7, January 1st. Sixty-nine musicians were paid ; amongst these 
were " Schawmeris " as well as " Piparis." ' 

1507-8, January 1st. Three harpei's, two pipers of Edinburgh, a 
great company of minstrels, besides nineteen others, were paid." 

1508, April 25th. Three harpers, one Clarscha, the common minstrels 
of Edinburgh, and forty-five other musicians, received gratuities.^ 

1512, March 26th. "Foure scolaris menstralez " were given £21 
Scots " to by thame instrumentis in Flandris," etc.* 

1512-13, January 1st. The Italian^ and French'' minstrels, together 
with the Scottish harpers, trumpeters, lute-players and others, in all 
twenty-five musicians, received payment.^ 

During March 1513, O'Donnel, Prince of Connal, visited the Scottish 
Court, then at Linlithgow,^ and the considerable sum of £50, 6s. 7d. was 
paid for his expenses.** The costume of an Irish prince probably differed 
from that in use at the Scottish Court, so before his departure he was 
presented with a satin gown, a russet coat, scarlet hose, and a doublet 
of Crammesy satin. ^^ His retinue must have been considerable, as his 
expenses while in Edinburgh amounted to £40 ; and when leaving, 
besides other presents, he received £160,'' while his harper (Clarscha) 
the only one of his retinue mentioned, was given the handsome gratuity 
of £7.'" He was probably a remarkable performer, as only one harper, 
an Englishman, who may have accompanied the Queen or one of her 
retinue, received so large a sum." 

Besides the musical instruments already referred to, there is one 
called the " Drone," of which we have two notices : 1501-2, January 1st. 
"to Nicholas Grey, playand on the dron, xiiij s";" and 1503, April 18th, 
" Jame that playis on the drone, xiiij s." ^^ 

1 Treasurer's Accounts, vol. iii. p. 360. munication with the King, and one of his retainers 

- Ibid., vol. iv. pp. 92-3. who brought hawks to James received on 24tb 

3 Ibid., vol. iv. p. 112. July £7. 1512-13, March: another retainer who 

Ibid., vol. iv. p. 338. came with letters received £7, and a priest who 

" 1507-8, January 1st. The " Italien Schaw- accompanied him £4, 4s. — Treasurer's Accounts, 

maris" were paid.— Ibid., vol. iv. p. 92. 1511. vol. iv. pp. 135, 406. 

"Four Italian Schawmeris and four Italian » Ibid., vol. i v. p. 416. 

trumpattis."— Ibid., vol. iv. p. 270; Ibid,, p. 324. i» Ibid., vol. iv. pp. 434-5. 

" There were eleven French drummers, fiddlers, " Ibid., vol. iv. j). 527. 

organists, and trumpeters. — Ibid., vol. iv. pp. '- Ibid., vol. iv. p. 415. 

443-4. 13 Ibid., vol. ii. p. 397. 

' Ibid., vol. iv. p. 402. i4 ibid., vol. ii. p. 131. 

s As early as 150S the Prince was in com- '' Ibid., vol. ii. p. 367. 



Throughout the country musicians amused the King during his 
frequent excursions. Thus we hear of Harpers at Linlithgow,^ Fowlis 
in Angus," Duchal,^ Elgin,* Eliotstown,^ and Dingwall ; "^ 

Clarschas at Perth,^ Dumbarton,^ Balquidder,^ Glenluce/" Loch- 
maben," Stirling,^^ Wigtown, ^^ Inchmahome," and Ayr ; ^^ 

Drummers at Dumfries,^" Wigtown," Dingwall,^* Kirk of Kile,^" 
Dumbarton,"" and Haddington ; "^ 

Pipers at Aberdeen,^" Dumbarton,"^ Wigtown,"* Dumfries,"* Glenluce,^* 
Biggar/^ Ayr,"^ Lincluden,^^ Lochmaben,^" and Crail ; ^^ 

Fiddlers at St. Andrews,^" Falkland,^*' Dunbar.^** Duresder,^* Montrose,'' 
Bothwell,^^ Perth,^* Biggar,''" Wigtown,*" Lochmaben,*^ Inchmahome,*^ 
Dumbarton,*^ Penpont,** Crail,** and Glasgow ; *" 

Luterers at Perth,*' Stobhall,*' Whithorne,*^ Stirling,*" Threave," 
Kirkintulloch,*" and Falkland ; *^ 

A Monochordis at Dunotter,** and Minstrels at Doun,*? Haddington,®' 
and St. Andrews.*' 


1 Treasurer's Accounts 


i. p. 


30 Treasurer's Accounts, vol. iii. p. 130. 

2 Ibid., vol. i. p. 372. 

31 Ibid., vol. iii. p. 413. 

3 Ibid., vol. i. p. 378. 

32 Ibid., vol. i. p. 333. 

' Ibid., vol. ii. p. 401. 

33 Ibid., vol. i. pp. 333, 371 ; vol. ii. pp. 

6 Ibid., vol. iii. p. 152. 


6 Ibid., vol. iii. p. 167. 

31 Ibid., vol. i. p. 337. 

^ Ibid., vol. i. p. 324. 

35 Ibid., vol. i. p. 356. 

8 Ibid., vol. i. p. 383. 

30 Ibid., vol. ii. p. 123. 

» Ibid., vol. ii. pp. 119, 


37 Ibid., vol. ii. p. 366. 

i" Ibid., vol. ii. p. 371. 

38 Ibid., vol. ii. p. 377 (1503, July 3rd), 

11 Ibid., vol. iii. p. 131. 

ane Erach fithelar in Sanct Johnstouu, v s." 

12 Ibid., vol. iii. pp. 135-137. 

30 Ibid., vol. ii. p. 421. 

13 Ibid., vol. iii. p. 193. 

*o Ibid., vol. iii. p. 193. 

1* Ibid., vol. iii. p. 338. 

" Ibid., vol. iii. pp. 130-149. 

15 Ibid., vol. iii. p. 404. 

42 Ibid., vol. iii. p. 339. 

16 Ibid., vol. ii. p. 370. 

" Ibid., vol. iii. p. 368. 

" Ibid., vol. ii. p. 371. 

■1* Ibid., vol. iii. p. 373. 

1' Ibid., vol. ii. p. 167. 

«5 Ibid., vol. iii. p. 413. 

10 Ibid., vol. ii. p. 366. 

40 Ibid., vol. iv. p. 345. 

20 Ibid., vol. iii. p. 368. 

47 Ibid., vol. i. p. 324 ; vol. ii. pp. 462-465 

21 Ibid., vol. iv. p. 85. 

« Ibid., vol. i. p. 376. 

22 Ibid., vol. i. pp. 362, 



ii. pp. 124, 

40 Ibid., vol. i. p. 385. 

388, 400, 463, 464 ; vol. iii. p. 


50 Ibid., vol. ii. pp. 97-98. 

23 Ibid., vol. i. p. 383 ; 

vol. ii. p. 


51 Ibid., vol. ii. pp. 113, 158. 

21 Ibid., vol. ii. pp. 158 



52 Ibid., vol. ii. p. 113. 

25 Ibid., vol. ii. pp. 370,421,453; 

vol. iii. p. 130. 

53 Ibid., vol. ii. pp. 342, 417-459. 

26 Ibid., vol. ii. p. 371. 

5* Ibid., vol. ii. p. 463. 

27 Ibid., vol. ii. p. 421. 

55 Ibid., vol. iv. p. 75. 

28 Ibid., vol. iii. p. 1.52, 



50 Ibid., vol. iv. p. 85. 

20 Ibid., vol. iii. p. l.'iS. 

5" Ibid., vol. iv. p. 1 15. 



Churchmen, nobles, barons, chiefs of clans, and gentlemen retained 
musicians. So the King had the additional advantage of hearing the 
Harpers of the Lord of Balnagowan,^ the Thane of Cawdor," the 
Countess of Crawford,^ the Bishop of Ross,^ the Bishop of Caithness,^ 
and Lord Sempil ; ^' 

The Clarschas of the Earl of Argyle,^ Maclain,* the Prior of White- 
horn," and O'Donnel, Prince of Connal ; ^° 

The Drummers of Lord Hamilton," the Laird of Cragyis,^" John 
Murray,^^ Lord Fleming," the Bishop of Moray, '^ and the Lord of 
Aubigny ; '" 

The Fiddlers of Sir Alexander Jardine " and Sir George Lawediris ; ^^ 

The Luterers of the Prior of Whitehorn,'" the Laird of Johnston,^* 
Lord Ruthven,'" the Bishop of Moray ,^^ the Laird of Kilmaurs,"^ the 
Countess of Crawford,^* and the Minstrels of Lord Seton ^^ and the Earl 
of Bothwell.-'' 

Of all the instruments referred to, the Harp and Clarscha being of 
the first importance, it is desirable that they should be more fully 

The Harp, as already stated on the authority of an anonymous writer, 
was strung with the intestines of an animal. There is unfortunately no 
specimen of this instrument extant, but it most probably resembled the 
Clarscha in form ; but as the tension of gut is considerably less than 
that of wire, to allow for the necessary vibration the sounding-board was 
most likely somewhat thinner than that of the Clarscha. It may, 
however, be remarked that when, as will be afterwards noticed, a 
genuine Clarscha was strung with gut and played upon, it was found 

' Treasurer's Accounts, vol. ii. p. 125. '^ Treasurer's Accounts, vol. iii. pp. 356, 

2 Ibid., vol. ii. p. 126. 375, 400, 403 ; vol. iv. pp. 75, 137. 

3 Ibid., vol. iii. p. 163. i° Ibid., vol. iii. p. 403. 
i Ibid., vol. iii. p. 190. '1= Ibid., vol. iv. p. 124. 
» Ibid., vol. iii. p. 342. " Ibid., vol. iii. p. 139. 

6 Ibid., vol. ii. p. 443. '* Ibid., vol. iii. p. 190. 

7 Ibid., vol. ii. p. 388; vol. iii. pp. 339- 'Mbid., vol. ii. p. 104. 
365. 20 ibid^ yol. ii. p. HI. 

8 Ibid., vol. iii. p. 339. 21 n,;,}., vol. ii. p. 343. 
" Ibid., vol. iii. p. 375. 22 jbid., vol. ii. p. 439. 

i» Ibid., vol. iv. p. 415. 23 ibid., vol. iii. p. 144. 

11 Ibid., vol. ii. p. 367. 24 ibid., vol. iii. p. 190. 

12 Ibid., vol. ii. p. 443. 25 ibid., vol. ii. p. 145. 

13 Ibid., vol. iii. pp. 139-154. 26 ibid., vol. iv. p. 93. 


to be an agreeable instrument, specially from the centre of the scale to 
the treble. The Hai-p, it may be remarked, compared with the 
Clarscha, was a comparatively easy instrument to learn. 

The Clarscha, or Irish Harp, was principally in use in Ireland and 
the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, where the best performers were 
to be met with. The princes and chiefs of Ireland retained harpers, and 
the nobles and chiefs of the Highlands and Islands did the same. This 
most difficult instrument could only be mastered by those who had com- 
menced the study at or before the early age of ten or twelve. The 
prolonged vibration of the wire strings required to be immediately 
stopj)ed or damped : thus, as soon as a finger pulled a string another 
finger stopped the vibration, and when the performer upon the Clarscha 
was a proficient no jarring of the strings against the finger-nails was heard. 

Of the Clai'scha of this period we have fortunately a plain but 
excellent specimen — the Lament Harp. The instrument in Scotland, as 
in Ireland, had probably a number of thin steel strings in the treble, and 
was most likely tuned and played upon in the Highlands as in Ireland. 
As already mentioned, the Clarscha was splendidly decorated, and set 
with gems or crystal ; and we hear of " ane cais to Ersch Clarscharis 
harp coverit with leddir," which cost £2, 2s. ,^ enough to show how 
carefully these beautiful instruments were protected from damage at a 
period when roads were few and rough, and conveyances with springs 
were perhaps not thought of. It may be remarked that between this 
instrument and the Harp a distinction is almost invariably made, for 
although we hear of English harpers we have no notice of an English 
Clarscha ; and although several Irish Clarscha are mentioned, we only 
hear of one Irish harper, and that is certainly an error. On the other 
hand, we find Pate harper Clarscha frequently mentioned, also Erse 
Clarscha, but only one Erse harper, probably an error. It is possible, 
and even probable, that some of the performers upon the Clarscha, such 
as Pate (Patrick), whose nationality is not given, were Irish. Half a 
century later (1563-6), the inhabitants of a portion of Galloway spoke 
" erishe," ^ and between this isolated Gaelic-speaking community and 

' Treasurer's Accounts, vol. iii. p. 367. therle of Cassills and his frendes. A barrant 

2 "KARRIK BAILZERY." cutree but for bestiall ; the people for the moste 

" Beyonde the Mull of Gallowaye And of Lowg- part speketh erishe." — Archseological and His- 

ryane soueth with the same Karick, bailzerye, torical Collections relating to the Counties of Ayr 

parcell of the shereffdome of Are. Inhabited by and Wigtown, vol. iv. p. I". 



Ireland there must have been frequent communication. A few hours' 
sail would bring an Irish harper to the noted shrine of St. Ninian, so the 
Clarscha of the Prior of Whithorn and those who performed before the 
King at Wigtown, Lochmaben, and Ayr, probably came from the neigh- 
bouring island. 

As the Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer during the reign of 
James v. have not been published, and the writer has been unable to 
examine the voluminous MS. record, this notice will conclude with the 
kw brief references to the Harp which appear in printed volumes. 

1533-4. A dispute having arisen as to the ownership of a harp 
claimed by Walter Buchanan of Spittel, on the one side, and Isabella 
Logan, John Lennox, her son, and Thomas Napier of Ballekinrain, on the 
other, "the said Walter" was directed, February 23rd, "to deliver ane 
harp als gude as it was at the tyme it was taken fra the said Isabell." ' 

1590. When Anne of Denmark entered Edinburgh, we learn that 

"Thair was Hautbois and the Harp 
Playing maist sweit and pleasant springs." - 

1594. When Archibald, Earl of Argyll, led an anny against the 
Earls of Angus, Huntly, and Errol, he was accompanied by his harper.^ 

For a considerable period the chiefs of the Islands, such as the Laird 
of Macleod ■* and Maclean of Goll,^ continued to retain harpers. 

Down to 1700 the musical instruments of the people about Inver- 
lochy were " Bagpipes, or violes, or harps, specially the clarschach." " 

Mr. Gunn mentions a few of the noted harpers. The last of all 
appears to have been Murdoch Macdonald, who received his first in- 
struction from Eory Dall, Macleod's harper at Dunvegan. Afterwards 
he crossed to Ireland, where he no doubt completed his musical 
education. Eventually he settled in Coll as the estabhshed harper 
of the laird of that island, with whose family he remained until 
1734, when he retired to Quinish in Mull, where he died.^ From 
another source we learn that Miss MacLean, afterwards Mrs. Mackenzie, 
recollected having heard him play in the house of her father. Dr. 

• Musical Memoirs (Daly ell), pp. 236-7. 
'■ Ibid., p. 162. 

■■ Gunn's Enquiry, p. 51. 

* Ibid., p. 95. 

Gurm's Enquiry, p. 101. 

Musical Memoirs (Dalyell), p. 235. 

Gunn's Enquiry, p. 101. 


MacLean, near Tobermory. This was probably prior to 1773, during which 
year Dr. Johnson met Miss MacLean and specially noticed her.^ 

Although the native performers, as far as we know, were stationary, 
Scotland was occasionally visited by harpers of note from the neighbour- 
ing island, who travelled from castle to castle, and even performed 
before the Court at Holyrood. Two of these, Hempson "- and O'Kane, 
were to be heard during the eighteenth century, but even then the 
instrument had almost disappeared in Scotland, for we know that the 
former, during his frequent visits to country houses,^ met with only one 
harp, and that a very small instrument. In fact, fashion had changed ivy 
Scotland, and other instruments had replaced the Clarscha. 


1491. April 5th [Linlithgow], til a harpar, ....... xviij s * 

April 19th, to Martyn, clareschaw, and the toder Ersche clareschaw, 

at the Kingis cominand, ......... xviij s 

May 30th, til ane Ersche harpar, at the Kingis command, . . . xviij s * 
1490-1. January 2nd, to Martyn M'Bretne, clareschaw, . . . . . x s 

,, til ane oder Ersche clareschaw, . . . . . v s " 

1494. Dress to Pate Harpar, .......... "^ 

1496. April 25th, giffin to James Mylsone the harpare at the Kingis com- 

mand, ........... xiij s iiij d ^ 

August 3rd, giffin to the harpare with the a hand, . . . . ix s " 

October 28th, to James Mylsone, the harpare, at the Kingis command, xxxvj s '" 

1496-7. January 3rd, giffin to Pate, harpare, xiij s iiij tt i^ 

February 25th, giffin to Fowlis the harpare at the King's command, xiiij s i- 

March 13th [Perth], to a man that playit on the clarscha to the 

King, vii s 13 

1497. March 28th, to Mylsone the harpare, xiiij s 

Fowlis the harpar, .......... xiiij s 

to Pate harpare, . . . . . . . . . ix s '* 

April 10th, to Johne harpar with the ane hand, at the Kingis com- 
mand, ix s 1* 

May 5th, at the Kingis command, to Mylsoune, harpar, . . xiij s iiij 3 ^^ 

1 Gaelic Proverbs, edited by Alex. Nicolson. * Treasurer's Accounts, vol. i. p. 273. 
Edn. 1881, pp. 409-410. " Ibid., p. 288. 

2 He performed before Prince Charles Edward '" Ibid., p. 304. 
at Holyrood. " Ibid., p. 309. 

3 During his second visit to Scotland. ^^ Ibid., p. 321. 
* Treasurer's Accounts, vol. i. p. 176. ^^ Ibid., p. 324. 
5 Ibid., p. 177. " Ibid., p. 326. 

Ibid. p. 184. 1* Ibid., p. 329. 

Ibid., p. 232. 1* Ibid., p. 333. 


June 1 2th, to Fowlis the harpar, . . . . . . ix s ^ 

September 20th, at the Kingis command, to Pate harpar, . . xviij s ^ 

October 2nd, to Pate harpar, at the Kingis command, . . . . ix s ^ 

December 19th, in Fowlis in Angus, to the harpar there, at the Kingis 

command, ........... xiiij s * 

February — be the Kingis command to James Mylson, . . . ix s ° 

1497-8. February 21st, at the Kingis command, to Sande harpar, . xiij s iiij d ^ 

February 22nd, in Dowquhale, to the harpar, be tlie Kingis com- 
mand, ............ xiiij s '' 

March 16th, in Dowchale, to the harpar thare, .... xiij s iiij d 

March 19th, in Dunbertane, to the man that play it to the King on the 

clarscha, be the Kingis command, ....... xiiij ,? 

March 20th, to Andro Wod, that he hed laid doune to ana Inglis harpar, 

be the Kingis command, ....... xiij s iiij d * 

1501. December, clothes for Pate Harpar, clarscha, ^ 

April 1 3th, Pate harpar on the harp, Pate harper on the clarscha, James 

Mylson harpar, the Ireland clarscha, and an English harpar, each 

received xiiij s ^° 

May 22nd, be the Kingis command, to Pate harpar, .... xiiij s 

May 25th, to James Mylson, harpar, be the Kingis command, . xiiij i '' 

June 1st, to Pate harpair, ......... xiiij s ^- 

September 14th [Balquidder], to ane clarschaar thare, . . . . ij s '^ 

September 16th [Balquidder], to tua men that playit on the clarscha 

and sang to the King, be the Kingis command, .... xxviij s ^* 

November 11th, be the Kingis command, to the lard of Balnagownis 

harpare, ........... xiiij s '^^ 

November 15th, to Alexander Harper be [the Kingis command], to help 

him to by ane hors, ......... xxviij s 

November 18th, to the Thayn of Caldoris harpar, be the Kingis com- 
mand, xiiij s "^ 

1501-2. January 1st, James Mylson, Pate Harpar, Alexander Harpair, Pate 

Harpar clarscha, and the blind harper, each xiiij s i" 

1502. September 26th, be the Kingis command to Mylson harpar, . . xviij s '^ 
1502-3. January 1st [Arbroath], to four harparis, ilk ane xiiij s ^^ 

February 22nd, to the blind harpar, be command, .... xiiij s 

1503. April 18th, to Pate Harpar, Alexander Harpar, Pate Harper clarescha, 

and the blind harper, each xiiij s ^^ 

' Treasurer's Accounts, vol. i. p. 340. '" Treasurer's Accounts, vol. ii. p. 102. 

2 Ibid., p. 359. 11 Ibid., p. 109. 

3 Ibid., p. 361. 12 Ibid., p. 110. 
^ Ibid., p. 372. 13 Ibid., p. 119. 
^ Ibid., p. 376. Besides the James Mylson, " Ibid., p. 120. 

harper, there was a "taubronar" (drummer) of i^ Ibid., p. 125. 

Leith of the same name. — Vol. ii. pp. 141, i" Ibid., p. 126. 

155. " Ibid., p. 131. 

« Ibid., p. 377. 18 Ibid., p. 342. 

■ Ibid., p. 378. i» Ibid., p. 353. 

« Ibid., p. 383. 20 ibid., p. 359. 

9 Ibid., vol. ii. p. 55. =i Ibid., p. 367. 


S 3 

SXVllJ s ' 

xiiij s ^ 

xiiij s ^ 

xiiij s 1" 


May 2nd, to Makberty the clarscha to pas in the His, be the Kingis 
command, v Franch crounis, summa . . . . . iij t 

May 15 th, to the clarscha in Glenlus, 

August 19th, to the Erie of Ergiles clarschar, be the Kingis command, xiiij s 

August 21st [Aberdeen], to the Inglis harparis, ij ros nobles, summa iij ti x i ^ 

September 23id [Stirling], to ane Inglis harpar, be the Kingis com- 
mand, X Franch crounis, summa vij ti ^ 

October 2nd, to Alexander harpar and James Mylson, be the Kingis 

command, ........... xxviij s ^ 

October 8th, in Elgin, in Murray, to ane blind harpar thare, be the 
Kingis command, .......... 

October 27th, to Pate Harper, clarscha, 

1503-4. January 1st, to Alexander Harpar, Pate Harpar, Pate Harpar clarscha. 
Hew Brabenar, and the blind harpar, harpars, each 

1504. June 31st, in Paslay, to Lord Simpilles harpar, ..... 
July 31st, to Alexander, harpar, and James Mylson, be the Kingis com- 
mand, ............ xxviij s '1 

August 2nd, be the Kingis command, to James Mylson and Alexander, 

harpar, to fee thaim hors to pas to the raid to Eskdale, . . . xxviij s ^^ 

October 22nd, to the lard of Balnagownis harper, be command, . . xiiij s ^^ 

November 7th, in Sanct Johnestoun to Mylson, harpar, be the Kingis 

command, ........... xiiij s i* 

November I7th, to the Countes of Craufurdis harpar, .... xiiij s '^ 
1504-5. January 1st, to James Mylson, Alexander, harpar, Bonaventure, Pate 

Harpar, clarscha, and his son, ilk ane ...... xiiij s ^^ 

March 12th [Lochmaben], to ane clarschaar there, be command, . . vij s i" 

1505. March 25th, to Mylson, Alexander harpar. Pate harpar, clarscha, the 

blind harpar, Bragman, harparis, ilk ane ..... xiiij s '^ 
April 12tli, to the Ersch clarschaar, for ane stane tane fra him be the 

King, ............ xlij s ^^ 

May 1st [Dumbarton], to ane clarschaar, be command, . . . v s -" 

May 9 th, to Mylson, harparis, ........ ix s 

May 22nd [Stirling], to ane clarschaar, be the Kingis command, . . xiiij s 

July 26th, in Eliotstoun to ane harpar thare,-" be the Kingis command, . xiiij s 

July 28th, to Pate, harpar, at the Kingis command, . . . . ix s 

August 16th, to Alexander, harpar, be command of the Lordis of the 

-- oo 


XX s 2^ 

1 Treasurer's Accounts, 


ii. p. 369. 

1^ Treasurer's Accounts, vol. ii. p. 465. 

2 Ibid., p. 371. 

15 Ibid., p. 467. 

3 Ibid., p. 38S. 

1^ Ibid., p. 472. Bonaventure was probably not 

* Ibid., p. 389. 

a harper. 

6 Ibid., p. 397. 

" Ibid., vol. iii. p. 131. 

« Ibid., p. 400. 

IS Ibid., p. 132. 

7 Ibid., p. 401. 

i» Ibid., p. 135. 

8 Ibid., p. 403. 

20 Ibid., p. 137. 

" Ibid., p. 412. 

21 Ibid., p. 139. 

10 Ibid., p. 443. 

22 Ibid., p. 140. 

11 Ibid., p. 449. 

23 Probably Lord Sempill's. 

12 Ibid., p. 450. 

2« Ibid., p. 152. 

13 Ibid., p. 464. 

2° Ibid., p. 156. 



September 9th, to Bragman harpar, be the Kingis command, 
September 21st, to the Countes of Craufurdis harpar, be command, 

to the blind harpair, be the Kingis command, .... 

October 19th, in Dignewaill, to ane harpar, be the Kingis command, 
December 7th [Edinburgh], to ane Irland clarschaar, .... 

1506. April 14th, to Alexander harpar, Pate harpar clarscha, his son, tlie 

Ersch clarscha, his son, the Beshop of Ros harpar, the Bragman 
harpar, ilk man, ........ 

Henry Philip, harpar, ........ 

to the blind harpar, ....... 

May 1st, to ane clarschaar in Wigtoun, .... 

September 1st, in Inchcalloun [Inchmahom], to ane clarscha, 

September 2nd, to Pate, harper, be command, 

September 3rd, to Maklanis clarscha, ..... 

September 4th, to the Erie of Ergiles clarscha, 

September 12th, to the beshop of Caithnes harpar, 

October 20th, to Alexander harpar, ..... 

November 3rd, to Pate Harp, clarscha, .... 

November 24th, to Pate Harpar, clarscha, .... 

December 22, to Pate Harpar, ...... 

1506-7. January 1st, Harparis and clarscharis paid, .... 

February 2nd, to the Erie of Ergiles clarscha, 

February 6th, for ane cais to Ersch clarscharis harp coverit with 
leddir, .......... 

March 18th, to the aid Priour of Quhithirnis clarscha, 

March 20th, to Pate Harpar, clarscha, ..... 

1507. April 6th, to Alexander, harpar, ...... 

to KoUand, clarschaar, and Pate Harpar, clarscha, 

June 14th, to Pate Harpar, clarscha, ... 

to Alexander harpar, ...... 

July 17th, to Pate Harpar, clarscha, ..... 

to ane Ersch menstrale, ..... 

July 22 [Ayr], to the clarschar thar, 

September 27th, to Pate Harpar, clarscha, .... 

1507-8. January 1st, to Alexander, harpar, Bragman and Pate, harpar, 

1508. April 25th, to Alexander Harpar, Adam Dickson, Irish clarscha and 

Bragman, ilk ane .......... 


xiiij I 



V I 















V ; 




xlij i 


S 15 


a 1" 


S 19 


• Treasurer's Accouuts, vol. iii. p. 

2 Ibid., p. 163. 

3 Ibid., p. 167. 
■I Ibid., p. 175. 
5 Ibid., p. 190. 
c Ibid., p. 193. 

7 Ibid., p. .338. 

8 Ibid., p. 339. 
" Ibid., p. 342. 

I" Ibid., p. 3.51. 
11 Ibid., p. 332. 
1- Il)id., p. 35-t. 


1^ Treasurer's Accounts, vol. iii. p. 358. 

14 Ibid., p. 360. 
'■^ Ibid., ]). 360. 
I'l Ibid., p. 367. 
" Ibid., p. 375. 

15 Ibid., p. 379. 
13 Ibid., p. 392. 

21 Ibid., p. 403. 
-1 Ibid., p. 404. 

22 Ibid., vol. iv. p. 76. 

23 Ibid., p. 93. 
2< Ibid., p. 112. 


1511. to Adam Dikesone harpar for his leveray goune, etc., . . iiij ti ^ 

1512-13. January, to the Scottis harparis, ilk ane ...... xiiij s - 

1513. July 11th, to Odonelis harpar qixhilk past away with him, . . . vij li ^ 


For the form of the Harp in use in Scotland at a remote period we 
must turn to such representations of the instrument as appear upon the 
sculptured stones. Of these seven have fortunately been preserved, and 
they are here noticed in the order in which they are supposed to have 
been sculptured. 

No. I. The representation upon the stone at the chapel at Altbar, 
Aberlemno, Forfar (c. eighth or ninth century), shows us an instrument 
triangular in foi-m, with curved fore-pillar. The strings are indicated, 
but as the stone is much weather-worn the number cannot be ascertained.'' 

No. II. The sculpture at Nigg, Ross-shire (c. ninth or tenth century), 
is somewhat similar, the foi-e-pillar being in this instance straight. The 
strings (of which there are eight) are in their proper position.* 

No. III. is at Dupplin, Perthshire (c. tenth or eleventh century). 
Here the instrument, which is triangular in form, has eight strings and 
a straight fore-pillar. The performer is seated upon a chair with 
an ornamented back and apparently holds the Harp against his left 

No. IV. From Monifieth, Forfarshire (c. tenth or eleventh century), 
at present in the National Museum, Edinburgh, is both better designed 
and better preserved. The Harp is triangular in form, with a very 
slightly curved fore-pillar. There are eight strings. The harper is 

' Treasurer's Accounts, vol. iv. p. 262. longer distinct. The head is from a sketch taken 

2 Ibid., p. 402. before the rubbing was made. The illustration in 

3 Ibid., p. 415. the Sculptured Stones of Scotland is in some 
•• From a rubbing bj' Romilly Allen, Esq. respects different. A careful rubbing with grass 
^ There is an excellent cast of this stone in the might give some additional details. 

Museum of Science and Art, Edinburgh. Perhaps to the same period may be ascribed 

" The writer had Init little time to examine the sculptured cross slab at Ardchattan, illua- 

this stone. The illustration is from a drawing trated in the Early Christian Monuments of Scot- 

and from a rubbing, both hastily made. The land, p. 378. Upon which slab a seated figure is 

form of the Harp, the man's leg, and the chair are represented playing upon a Harp. One side of the 

most probably accurate. That portion of the instrument is broken away, but the harper appears 

sculpture which perhaps at one time represented to be holding the Harp with the fore-pillar towards 

the shoulder and left arm of the performer is no him. 



I I I I I L_l 

J I : I I I 

J I \ I I I 

I I I I I I I 

Each scale represents six inches. 
No. 1. Aldbar, c. 8th or gth century. No. 2. Nigg, c. 9th or loth century. No. 3. Dupplin. c. loth or nth century. 

No. 4. Monifieth, c. lOlh or nth century. No. 5. St. Gran's Chapel, lona, c 13th century. 
No. G. Cathedral, lona, c. 13th century. No. 7. Keills, c. 14th century. Nos. 8 ami 9. Kilcoy, 1679. 


seated upon a low chair with a back, and is playing with his left 

No. V. Upon a slab at St. Oran's Chapel, lona (c. thirteenth century). 
The occupier of a coracle is represented as holding a Harp, the fore-pillar 
of which is curved." 

No. VI. Upon the capital of one of the columns of the Cathedral, 
lona (c. thirteenth century), may be seen a i-epresentation in relief of the 
Virgin seated. Approaching from her left there is an angel I'obed, with 
large wings and long hair. Both hands of the angel grasp the box of a Harp, 
which is held in front of the body. The fore-pillar of the Harp is curved.^ 

Passing these early representations we come to the mediaeval period. 

No. VII. In the north-east angle of the chapel at Keills, Knapdale 
(c. fourteenth century). This piece of sculpture is of great interest and 
importance. We have here a representation of a Highland Harp [Clarscha] 
of the period. The box is ornamented in a style similar to that used in 
decorating the Harp known as that of Queen Mary, and also the Harp 
in Trinity College, Dublin. The fore-pillar is curved, and has the 
T formation, to be hereafter referred to ; but, what is of special interest, 
the harmonic curve shows a peculiar, and what may be called the 
distinctive Highland, hump.* 

The next and last representation is dated 1679, and occurs upon the 
lintel of a fireplace in the Castle of Kilcoy, Ross-shu-e. The sculptor 
unquestionably had a Highland Harp before him, perhaps one belonging 
to a retainer of the chief At either end of the lintel a mermaid is 
represented as playing upon a Harp. That to the left (No. 8) is perfect, 
and the Harp is correctly held by the performer against the left shoulder ; 
but here, probably owing to some chipping of the stone or other accident, 
the hump on the harmonic curve is not clearly indicated. Upon the 
representation to the right, the sculptor, to make his design more 
uniform, has placed the Harp against the right shoulder of the performer, 
in an incorrect position ; but this is of little consequence. What is of 

1 From a rubbing by the writer. relief. The harp is four inches long. The stone 

^ From a rubbing most obligingly taken by is much weather-worn. 

Mr. Alexander Ritchie, caretaker, lona. * The writer is specially indebted to the Rev. 

^ The illustration is from a photograph by the M. Maclean, Cramond, who most obligingly 

Rev. J. B. Mackenzie, Keumore, in the possession travelled a considerable distance to examine the 

of Joseph Anderson, LL.D. Mr. Alexander slab, and who made several rubbings of the 

Ritchie, caretaker, lona, has kindly examined Harp, from which the illustration has been pro- 

the sculpture, which is about one half-inch in duced. 


real interest is, that the hump on the harmonic curve, which, as ah-eady 
stated, is a distinctive characteristic of the Highland Harp, is here clearly 
indicated. Of this piece of sculpture the block projecting from the 
lower termination of the box has been broken avs^ay, and is represented 
in the illustration by lines. Upon both sculptures the bands through 
which the tuning-pegs pass are shown, and have each single curves.^ 

This is, as far as the writer is aware, the latest representation of the 
last form of the Highland Harp upon stone ; but upon the coins struck 
in Scotland during the reign of James vi. after the union of the Crowns, 
and also upon one of Charles I., the Clarscha is represented. 

The Harp occurs also upon stone, stucco, wood, and painted ceilings 
in Scotch houses," but these, although here noticed, are simply con- 
ventional representations, and are of no interest. Artists no doubt 
carried their designs about, and reproduced them when necessary. 

If we accept the Harps that occur upon the Highland stones and 
upon the Irish shrines as representations of the instruments that were 
in use at the periods when the stones were sculptured and the shrines 
constructed, they may throw some light upon the development of the 
instrument. The occurrence of eight strings,^ as shown by the Nigg, 
Dupplin, and Monifieth stones, erected in separate localities, and sculp- 
tured at different periods, can scarcely be accidental. It may therefore 
be reasonably concluded that the instrument, between the ninth and the 
eleventh centuries, had that number of strings. The number appears 
small, but if, as is supposed, the early scales were gapped — that is, that 
two of the notes in our octave were wanting — these eight strings repre- 
sent a range of ten notes, sufficient for ordinary melody. 

Harps of a larger size may have been in use at a very early period. 

1 The writer is indebted to Thomas Robs, Esq., from Clare to Cashel — O'Curry's Lectures, vol. iii. 

for a photograph of this stone, from which the pp. 262, 263, 333. The writer has not seen a 

illustrations have been taken. representation of a Harp upon any illustration of 

•) cr u u ,^ 1.1 n- 1 • T^- . , ^ r, an Irish cross. Stringed instruments are sculp- 

- Edinburgh Laetle, Finlarig, Kirkton of Burnt- , , ,, ,' ■., ^. ,, 

. , J TT .1 n 1.1 Ti-i 1 ■ ^ . • tured upon them, but ueither they nor the 

island, Huntly Castle, Pitslogie, Craigievar, . , ' ' , ^, „ . c. 

ri, ■ Aj u- i. /-I 11 ^ ■, . ,,■,, instrument represented upon the Cross of St. 

Glammis, Merchiston Castle, Saughton Mills, „ ,. ^ , .i . tt 

T. V, J. IT -Mi-ji ii.- -r. ,• , , X, . , Martin, Jona, have the true Harp form. At a 

Baberton House, Midlothian, Burntisland Parish , ^ . , , ,, ^..t.- i. j at,i. . 

n\. -u r< -T c ii- T^ TT ., later period we know that 'Bishops and Abbots 

Church, Celling from the Dean House, Museum, , ,^, . t , j ■ ^u i, t.^. <• 

^, . ■ r and holy men oi Ireland were in the habit of 

carrying their Harps with them in their peregrina- 

2 As early as 845 a portable eight-string«d tions, and found pious delight in playing upon 
instrument was in use in Ireland. On one occa- them." — Giraldus Cambrensis, Bobn's Edition, 
sion au abbot carried one of these at his girdle p. 128. 



Certainly we find an instrument with a considerable number of strings, 
upon which the performer is represented as playing with both hands, 
which archseologists now suppose to belong to the ninth century.' 
The strings at the period were probably rudely and strongly made, and 
as the tension of a number of such strings tended to draw the harmonic 
curve and the fore-pillar towards the left, the artificers adopted an 
exceptionally strong formation of fore-pillar to withstand the strain ; 
so we find that the section of a large portion of the centre of the fore- 
pillar resembles the letter T. This T formation may be seen upon the 
shrine of St. Moedoc (c. ninth century). It is also, but not so correctly, 
represented upon the sculpture at Keills, so we may conclude that its 
importance was recognised and the form in use from the ninth century. 

If the reader examines the early Highland stones and the Irish 
shrines he will observe a total absence of any indication of a block 
projecting from the lower termination of the box. Certainly, the 
representations upon stone are in low relief and weather-worn, and 
any indication of a projecting block may have disappeared in the course 
of time, but upon the shrines this is not so. An artist who could so 
clearly indicate the T formation of the fore-pillar upon so small a space 

could, and probably would, have represented a projecting block, if the box 

of the Harp he had before him had shown that peculiar feature. Again, 

upon the sculpture at Keills we find the ornamentation upon the side of 

the box continued to the lower termination. The sculptor would 

scarcely have carried the ornamentation to the extremity had he 

intended to represent a projecting block. 

Considering the evidence, it is not unreasonable to suppose that, prior 

to the fourteenth century, a considerable portion 

of the lower termination of the box was left solid 

for the support of the fore-pillar, and that about 

that period some artificer, for the purpose of 

diminishing the weight of the instrument, removed 

a portion of this block upon either side (see shaded 

portion of diagram)," leaving the centre to which 

1 The Shrine of St. Moedoc. When noticing 
this shrine the writer was under the impression 
that it was constructed during the eleventh 
century. It is now supposed to belong to the 

ninth century. 

^ The dotted lines represent the termination of 
the projecting block, as shown by the existing 


he attached the fore-pillar ; and others, finding that the instrument 
when so constructed withstood the tension of the strings, adopted 
the form which afterwards became general. This is conjectural ; but 
if it can be accepted as probable, it must be allowed that Harps of an 
earlier period may have been treated in a similar manner. 

The earliest known representation of a Harp with a projecting block 
is at Jerpoint Abbey, Kilkenny. The exact date of the sculpture has 
not been ascertained, but from the costume of the recumbent effigies 
archseologists have been led to suppose that the monument was con- 
structed during the early portion of the fifteenth century ; and as the 
Harp the sculptor had before him probably belonged to O'Banahan, 
whose effigy is represented, and may have been of considerable age when 
copied, the projecting block most likely came into use between 1350' 
and 1380. 


Scotland is fortunate in possessing two exceptionally fine examples of 
the Highland Harp (Clarescha), viz. the Lamont Harp and the Harp 
known as that of Queen Mary. The traditions, which account for the 
names by which these instruments are known, have been fully retailed by 
John Gunn in his Enquiry in 1807, and by the late Charles D. Bell in 
1880 ; the interesting paper by the latter will be found in the Proceedings 
of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, vol. xv. p. 10. 

Both these Harps were deposited in the National Museum, Edin- 
burgh, by the late John Stewart, Esq., of Dalguise, at the time Mr. 
Bell's paper was read before the Society, and have been admirably cared 
for ever since." By the permission of the Council of the Society of 
Antiquaries both the Lamont and the Queen Mary Harps have been 
photographed for the purpose of illustrating this work. In arranging 
the Queen Mary Harp for that purpose, the writer placed the Harp in 
such positions that the exact form of the instrument may be seen by 
those at a distance who have no opportunity of examining the original. 

1 The shrine of St. Patrick's Tooth was con- these Harps were exhibited at South Kensington, 
structed about 1350. Upon no other occasion have they been removed 

^ By the special permission of Mr. Stewart from the Museum. 


Plate I 



This Harp, as it is supposed to be of somewhat greater antiquity, 
claims the first attention. Of this instrument, as is usual among Celtic 
specimens, the box is formed out of a solid block of wood and hollowed 
out from behind so as to form the sounding-board, sides and ends. The 
form is that of a truncated triangle, the extreme length in front, exclu- 
sive of the projecting block but including the collar, is 30 in., and at the 
back 30^ in. At the upper extremity a collar or neck rises upon either 
side and at the back, sloping inwards ; the height of this collar is ^ in. in 
front and rather more than {; in. at the back, the upper termination 
being |- in. higher at the back than at the front. In the centre of this 
collar there is a depression measuring across 2 in., and in depth, both at 
front and back, about -^^ in. This depression extends towards the back, 
and into it the end of the harmonic curve was placed. The collar and 
the depression are both diagonal terminations of the box. A cavity, into 
which the termination of the harmonic curve was inserted, occurs about 
1 in. from the front and extends to about f in. from the back. The lower 
extremity of the sounding-board is a straight line and has the unusual 
width of 17 in. ; here the sounding-board is flat, and the remainder was 
probably flat originally almost to the upper termination. The project- 
ing block is 4f in. long and 2f in. broad throughout, the corners at either 
side of the termination being well rounded. It may be remarked that, 
from where the projecting block leaves the box the upper portion 
gradually slopes downwards, the difference at the termination being f in. 
By giving the projecting block this slope the artificer may have anticipated 
the curvature along the strings, which he must have known would 
eventually occur (see Plate iv.). The depression into which the fore-pillar 
was fitted is 4|- in. long and 1 in. broad, the cavity into which the termi- 
nation of the fore-pillar was sunk and firmly secured by three wooden 
pegs is f in. from the upper extremity of the depression and is about 
|- in. broad. At the back of the projecting block the lower termination 
is rounded off". 

The raised string-band is If in. broad, and ^ in. deep. At the lower 
termination it ends in one step upon either side ; here the width is 
2f in., the steps are 1^ in. from the extremity of the sounding-board. 



At the upper termination the string-band ends upon either side in semi- 
circular curves, the commencement of the curves being 26-| in. from 
the lower termination of the sounding-board, and the ends 26h in. 
from the lower extremities of the sides of the box, the summit of 
each curve being 27 in. from the termination of the sounding- board. 
The string-band is pierced for 32 strings; the "shoes of the strings," 
or guards, with the exception of one, are all in their places. Twenty- 
six of these are deserving of special notice ; they are in high relief, 
/\ Fig, I. r— , well-wrought, and are of ex- 

/\«8i^^^^A.^N,wO (^L_-y'^ifik.^>w^ ceptionally fine form; they are 
/ Q^ (w) ^^03 C O^ (w) |-X> J believed to be of brass ^ (Fig. i.). 

^ \im\mF^ ^%//"«iii^F ^ The remaining five, horse- shoe 

<>>*xi ^ C/\:> in form, terminate in quatre- 

foils, many of the leaves of which have incised circles ; two of these 
are attached to the thirty-first and thirty-second string-holes, and 
three to the first three string - holes ^"^ Fig. h. /ss*"™"*^ 
(Fig. II.). The upper string-holes gradu- I l^m\ //w^ J 

ally approach the left side of the string- \%o) (c °I f rs) (TrD 

band, so as to allow the strings to be ^-'\£J O'*-^ 4^? ^'VS) L^i-' 
more perpendicular than they otherwise would be (see Plate iii.. No. 1). 
The larger "shoes of the strings" being too broad and unsuitable 
for the three first holes, the horse-shoe form had to be adopted. 
The sounding-board which, as already stated, was most probably flat 
throughout, has been raised f in. by the tension of the strings. 
The depth of the string-band is not included in this measurement. 
Where this convexity occui's, an attempt has been made to strengthen 
the sounding-board ; the " shoes of the strings," from and including the 
eighth to and including the twenty-second, were removed and replaced 
over three pieces of thin metal. This portion of the string-band has been 
carefully examined, and there does not appear to be any crack or split 
along the string-holes. The length of the strings is : first, 2|^ in. ; second, 
21- in. ; third, 2f in. ; thirty-first, 23f in. ; thirty-second, 24|^ in. It must, 
however, be remembered that on account of the fractures, etc., the form 
of the instrument has changed considerably ; the length of the strings, 

' The reader may remark that these, as also from sjilittiug along the string-holes. The blocks 
most of those upon the Trinity College Harp, (Figs. i. and n.) are actual size. 
are constructed so as to prevent the string-band 




therefore, when the Harp was constructed, would be somewhat different. 
There are four sound-holes, each about 1 in. in diameter. The lower 
sound-holes are 6f in. from the lower termination, and 2| in. from the 
sides. The upper sound-holes are 19f in. from the lower termination, 
and l^in. from the sides.^ The thickness of the sounding-board at both 
the upper and lower sound- holes is f in. 

The portion of the box above the semicircular termination of the 
string-band is very slightly convex. At the upper extremity it is 4^ in. 
broad. Below the collar already noticed a rude iron band 1^ in. broad 
has been, at a subsequent period, placed round the upper portion of 
the box. It may be remarked that this band, although placed some- 
what diagonally, is nearly perpendicular to the back of the box. The 
sides of the box are 4 in. deep below the semicircular endings of the 
string-band, and 4^ in. deep above. The length of the sides at the 
front and at the back, without the collar, is 30-g^ in. The thickness 
of the lower termination of the box is about 1 in. ; if there is a 
strengthening tongue it is probably short. The lower termination of 
the back of the box, unlike that of the front or sounding-board, is not 
a straight line, but slopes inward ; where the back on either side joins 
the projecting block it is ^ in. deeper than the junction of the sound- 
ing-board and projecting block. This is not an accident ; the block of 
wood must have been an exceptionally fine one. The centre of the 
projecting block has at some time been cut out, at least as far as the 
board at the back, and a piece of new wood, 1-| in. deep by If in. 
broad, let in to strengthen it. This was secured by two pegs. The 
Harp must have been a favourite instrument and much used, as the 
angles formed by the sides of the box and the sounding-board have 
been considerably worn by the friction of the hands and wrists. The 
board which is let into the sides and ends and forms the back is modern. 
The decoration of the box is very simple. Two parallel lines are 
carried along either side of the string-band, round the steps along 
each side of the projecting block, and join each other at the termina- 
tion. These parallel lines are carried round the semicircular endings 

' There is a circle drawn by the compass ficer had had some intention of making six 
between the upper and lower sound-holes, and sound-holes, 
upon the right side, which shows that the arti- 


to the string-band, then along both edges of the box, and no doubt 
join each other at the upper extremity of the box, which is now covered 
by the iron band (see Plate iii., Nos. 1 and 2). Along and quite close 
to the angles formed by the sounding-board sides and lower termina- 
tion of the box, there are single lines, and there are single lines 
round each sound-hole. Along the left side and termination of the 
box, and close to the edges of the sounding-board, there are single lines. 
If there was a line upon the right side it has been worn away, but a 
line on the right side of the lower termination of the box may still 
be seen. All these lines have apparently been burned in by a hot iron. 

The harmonic curve of this Harp is heavy but striking ; the heavi- 
ness is to a large extent due to its no longer joining the box, as the 
artificer intended. The Highland hump already noticed is most 
pronounced. At the back after leaving the box the harmonic curve 
is almost flat, then slightly rounded ; this curvature gradually 
diminishes and ends at the hump, where it becomes sharp, and con- 
tinues sharp up to the bass termination. The angles of the lower 
portion have been removed or bevelled. This bevelling at present com- 
mences somewhat behind the front of the box and follows a straight 
line for |^ in. ; it then takes the curved form, and terminates at the 
junction of the harmonic curve and fore-pillar. The width of the lower 
side of the harmonic curve is 2 in. ; where the angles have been re- 
moved it is If in., the bevels being f in. deep. Above the bevelling 
the sides are flat, the depth of the flat surface for a short distance 
being 1 in., while along the curves it is If in. To these flat portions 
Fig. in. Fio. iv. the bands pierced for the tuning- pegs are attached. 
2j3 P^ These bands are of brass, and each measures along the 
curve 17 in., and is -^ in. wide. They are strong and 
well-ornamented : that upon the left side has a series 
of ovals ; four of these at the treble termination are 
blank ; each of the others is pierced in the centre for a 
Ol -^ U tuning-peg (see Plate III., No. 3). Upon the right side at 
the treble end what appears to be S 1 1 1 ^ is engraved, after which what 
is known as the " simple angular fret" is finely engraved along the edges 
(see Plate in., No. 4). These bands form single curves and are certainly 

1 The S may be 5. 


PLATE 111. 

No. 1. Upper portion of the bo.x, showing the termination of the raised string band. 

No. 2. Lower tennination of the raised string band. 

No. 3. Treble end of the brass band through which the tuning-pegs pass— left side. No. i. Do. — right side. 

No. 5. Ornamentation beneath the lower termination of the brass cap or enrichment. 


original. Most of the tuning-pegs are in their places. Some are com- 
paratively modern and are plain, but the greater number are old and show 
two forms of ornamentation; four of these are as shown in Fig. iii., the 
others as in Fig. iv.' They are about 4^ in. in length. 

The end of the harmonic curve is covered with a brass enrichment. 
The engraving of the sides and end was executed by some person who 
had measurements but had not the Harp before him ; consequently when 
the cap came to be fitted the end was found to be too deep, so had to be 
cut in two places (see Plate iii.. No. 5). The portion between the two 
incisions was then bent forward so as to fit over the front of the fore- 
pillar (see Plate ii.). This has been rudely and carelessly done, and the 
ornamentation has been injured. The metal enrichment is well designed 
and executed. The sides and end show interlaced patterns engraved ; and 
the front, which may be described as a parallelogram surmounted by a 
triangle, has in the centre a representation in brass of a crystal cabuchon 
cut with foliaceous patterns both above and below. This face is sur- 
mounted by a border or frame, which is secured by three nails which have 
ornamented heads. Upon the outside the frame has a rope moulding 
from the upper extremity as far as the interlaced patterns upon the sides 
extend, then the strands of the ropes are reversed, and along the three 
sides of the parallelogram the form is altogether different. Here the 
ornamentation, which is principally upon the inner side, consists of a 
series of depressions, three on each side and nine at the lower termination. 
This termination, which was originally a straight line, has been forced 
to curve inwards and cover some of the floral ornamentation of the 
face, a portion of which may be seen below and outside the frame (see 
Plate II.). The cap with frame is 5f in. long, and with the frame is 2 j^^ in. 
wide at the lower extremity ; the length at the sides is 5-| in. without 
the frame, and with the frame 6 in. ; the depth of the sides without the 
frame is j-'i iii- ; the height of the frame above the sides is ^ in. 

It is probable that not long after the Harp was constructed the tension 
of the strings began to draw the harmonic curve towards the left, and 
to resist the strain two brass straps were constructed. These were firmly 
attached to the harmonic curve and fore-pillar each by four nails with 
broad and rounded heads. The ends of some of these nails were firmly 

' The illustrations are actual size. Both forms are to be met with upon Irish specimens. 


clamped upon the opposite side. These straps are 7f in. long and f in. 
broad in the centre, tapering to x^^ in. at the upper end and ^ in. at the 
lower termination. The upper extremities of both are leaf-shaped ; along 
the side of the harmonic curve upon both there appears to be angular fret 
decoration until they meet and cross the band for the tuning-pegs, where 
they are engraved in diagonal lines ; then parallel lines close together 
cross the straps. Between the band for the tuning-pegs and the lower 
portion of the harmonic curve the ornamentation upon both is distinct. 
Upon that nearer to the bass there is an interlaced pattern, and upon 
that nearer to the treble a foliaceous pattern. Each strap has some slight 
ornamentation where it bends before joining the fore-pillar, after which 
foliaceous patterns occur upon both ; and in each case the termination 
is a dragonesque head (see Plate ii.). 

At an early period a bad crack, caused by the tension of the strings, 
appeared at the hole ^ for the first tuning-peg ; and to prevent it from ex- 
tending, the harmonic curve and the fore-pillar were removed from the box, 
a strong strap of iron sunk in the wood at the under side of the harmonic 
curve, and a small thin brass band placed over it and nailed at either 
side of the ci'ack. At the same period a thin brass band was attached 
upon the right side, above the crack, passed under the brass bands for the 
tuning-pegs, and beneath the harmonic curve, and attached to the 
opposite or left side, well above the fracture. This band is ornamented 
throughout (see Plate m., Nos. 3 and 4). A small band was also attached 
both above and below the crack. There is no line decoration upon the 
harmonic curve. The following are some of the measurements of this 
portion of the instrument. The depth at the commencement of the 
flange near the box is 4 in., at the hump 5|- in., at the curve below the 
hump 4|- in., at the end of the flange 4|- in., at the extreme bass termi- 
nation without the mounting 5-g- in. From the back where it leaves the 
box to the hump 9^ in., from the back to the head of the nail at the apex 
of the triangular enrichment 18|^ in., from the back to the lower 
termination of the enrichment 20|^ in. An examination of the harmonic 
curve shows that the tension of the strings has warped or twisted it, as 
the apex of the triangular setting leans about ^ in. towards the left. 

^ This hole could uot have been afterwards used, and it is possible the hole for the second tuning- 
peg was also useless. 


The fore-pillar is considerably curved. The artificer understood the 
form, but was apparently unaware of the object, of the T formation, before 
referred to ; so he treated it as a decoration and placed it at much too 
great a length from either extremity (see Plate i.), with the result that 
the fore-pillar was unable to withstand the strain to the left, and a bad 
fracture occurred below, and a slight crack appeared above, the T forma- 
tion/ The Harp must have been a highly prized instrument, for in 
place of providing another fore-pillar, an attempt was made to supply a 
new termination to the broken fore-pillar. Here, again, the artisan was at 
fault. Had he known that the tension of the strings tended to shorten the 
fore-pillar, he would probably have placed broad plates upon either side ; 
he did not do so, but placed two straps — one upon either side. What 
might have been anticipated occurred : the fore-pillar was shortened, and 
there was another hopelessly bad fracture. Where the fore-pillar joins 
the harmonic curve the lines are no longer parallel, specially upon the 
right side ; this is usually an indication that the fore-pillar has been 
shortened. The writer has taken some trouble to ascertain whether the 
curvature of the upper or original portion of the fore-pillar has been 
increased; so, allowing that the shortening may have been ^ in., when 
preparing the diagram (Plate iv.), he continued the curve of the upper 
portion and then lengthened the fore-pillar ^ in. at either end. It was 
then found that, with the curve which the lengthened fore-pillar then 
showed, the fore-pillar would not fit, whereas when the present curve of 
the upper portion was continued the fore-pillar fitted ; it may therefore be 
concluded that the upper portion has not been shortened. It is evident 
that, after the fore-pillar was spliced, it was no longer able to withstand 
the direct tension of the strings, and that the straps connecting the 
fractured portions became hinges, as it were, and consequently the fore- 
pillar was shortened. It may be remarked that the straps binding the 
harmonic curve and fore-pillar are securely fastened to the harmonic 
curve each by two nails and by a tuning-peg, consequently they could 
not be moved ; but where they are attached to the fore-pillar the wood is 
much thinner and was probably somewhat decayed. So when the last 
breakage occurred and the fore-piUar was shortened, the holes became 

' The writer does not see auj' reason for sapposing that the upper portion of the fore-pillar is not 


enlarged, and the back of the fore-pillar was forced from the harmonic 
curve about ^ in. upon the right side and somewhat less upon the left 

The following are the measurements of the fore-pillar. The cavity in 
the harmonic curve, into which the upper extremity is inserted, is 
3|- in. long and 1 in. wide ; the fore-pillar at this extremity is in front 
1 j3. in. wide, at the back {-^ in., the depth being 3^ in. Six inches from 
the upper termination, where the T formation commences, it is 1:^ in. in 
front and 1 in. at the back. The extreme length of the T along the 
outer curve is 19 in., the width at 6 in. is S^ in., at the centre 3|- in., 
at 12 in. S^ in. The vertical depth of the T at the centre is 
^ in., the flange 1 in., depth from the flange to the back 2|- in. The 
width of the back of the fore-pillar where the fracture occurred is 1 in., 
the depth below the fracture 3f in. The outside curve of the remains 
of the fore-pillar and the addition is 32f in. In front and in the centre of 
the T formation there are two concentric circles. These may not be part 
of the original ornamentation of the Harp, as they are not shown by 
burned lines. The outer circle is 13yg^ in. from the upper extremity. 
The inner circle is 13^ in. from the upper extremity. The diameter of 
the outer circle is 2f in. ; that of the inner circle is l^ in. 

Either at the time the fractured fore-pillar was spliced, or at a 
subsequent period, the treble termination of the harmonic curve was 
removed from the depression in the upper portion of the box, and a 
wedge-shaped piece of wood placed under the left side ; and, when so 
raised, the harmonic curve was forced out of the cavity and back so as 
to allow of the rude iron strap which now binds it to the box being 
attached,^ thus causing a most unsightly alteration in the form of the 
instrument. At present the harmonic curve is tilted downwards and 
towards the left to such an extent that the metal enrichment, in place 
of being directly over, is now 2|- in. to the left of, the string-band. 

As the Harp is now so distorted, it is impossible by a single photo- 
graph to give a representation of what it was originally, but the writer 
has endeavoured to give a probable representation by tracing portions of 
two separate photographs, and placing them as they most probably were 
originally (see Plate iv.). Another indignity this ancient Harp has 

' At the back the collar has been somewhat cut down. 


been subjected to should be noticed. Some former possessor, apparently 
disliking the appearance of the bright metal, had all the mountings 
painted a deep brownish red. Most of this was afterwards removed 
from the cap and straps, but much of the bands for the tuning- pegs, 
the tuning-pegs, and the finely designed " shoes of the strings," are so 
coated with paint that the form is somewhat indistinct, and even the 
metal used for the construction of the last-mentioned is nowhere 
distinguishable. ' 

The writer has not been able to ascertain the exact weight of the 
Lamont Harp, but if Mr. Gunn is correct in stating that it is nearly 
twice the weight of the Queen Mary Harp, it must weigh somewhat less 
than 24 lbs. The Harp is a rich mahogany colour, and has perhaps been 
stained. The box, were it not worm-eaten, would now be serviceable. 
The harmonic curve and fore-pillar are, according to Mr. Gunn, of 
plane tree. 

As Mr. Gunn'a Enquiry may still be met with, it is desirable to notice 
some statements that may be found in that work. Firstly, Mr. Gunn 
supposed that the harmonic curve (which, as already stated, leans so 
much towards the left that the metal enrichment is 2| in. to the left 
of the string-band) was so arranged " in order to leave a greater opening 
for the voice of the performer to extend more freely, in all directions, to 
his audience, and that it might be obstructed as little as possible by the 
front-arm of the instrument " ! Secondly, Mr. Gunn failed to notice the 
serious crack in the harmonic curve which rendered the first and perhaps 
the second peg-hole useless, and concluded that the instrument had 
originally been intended to be strung with 30 strings only. And lastly, 
Mr. Gunn supposed that all the string-holes had been furnished with 
" shoes of the strings " of the horse-shoe form, and that these with the 
exception of five had been worn out and had been replaced by others of 
a different form ; whereas those of the horse-shoe form were placed over 
the first three holes, as the other " shoes of the strings," on account of 
their size, could not be used; and those over the 31st and 32nd string- 
holes were placed there probably because a sufiicient number of the 
larger and finer form had not been obtained from the artificer. 

Two illustrations of this Harp may be found in An Enquiry, etc., by 

' Mr. Bell states that they are of brass. 


John Gunn. There are also iUustrations in the Proceedings of the Society 
of Antiquaries ; in Musical Instruments, by Hipkins and Gibb ; in 
Drummond's Scottish Weapons ; and in the Book of the True High- 
lander. In the last-mentioned, the Harp is represented with a highly 
ornamented and improbable fore-pillar. 


The box of this instrument, which is in the form of a truncated 
triangle, curved at either side, at the upper extremity, and at the back, 
is hollowed out of a solid piece of wood. At the lower extremity the 
box terminates upon either side of the projecting block in straight 
lines. The raised string-band ends upon either side at the upper 
extremity in semicircular curves ; the width of the upper portion of 
the string-band is 1^''^ in., while at the lower termination it is l^J in., 
the depth throughout being ■§• in. At the lower extremity it is without 
steps, and is the commencement of the projecting block. The string- 
band is pierced with twenty-nine string-holes. All but two of the " shoes 
of the strings " are in their places. They are of three varieties, two 
being simply horse-shoe in form with flattened terminations pierced for 
nails (Fig. i.). Six are similar, but with flattened terminations turned 
Fio. I. Fio. II. Fio. III. outwards and pierced for 

nails (Fig. ii.); while nine- 

teen of a stronger make, 
which are decorated in in- 

cised diagonal lines, have the terminations bent backwards at right 
angles and sharpened so as to act as nails (Fig. iii.).^ Above the string- 
band the termination of the box is curved upon either side and slightly 
convex across. The sounding-board at the lower extremity, although 
flat upon either side, slopes from the string-band towards the sides, 
where it is rather less than ^ in. lower than at the centre. The sound- 
ing-board, in fact, has the form of an obtuse angle. There are four 
sound-holes ; the two uppermost are about f in. in diameter, the lower 
two about ]^ in. in diameter. The thickness of the sounding-board at 

1 The illustratious are actual size. It may be the string-band are a source of weakness wlien 
remarked that these " shoes of the strings," being the string-holes are as large as they are upon the 
of the horse-shoe form, so far from strengthening Celtic specimens. 


Plare I. 


the upper sound-holes is ^ in., at the lower sound-holes ^^ in. There 
is at the lower termination of the box, independent of the continuation 
of the string-band, a short projecting block ^ in. long and ^f in. wide, 
upon the right side, and j-V "i- wide upon the left side, which in front 
measures 2f in. across, and at the back 2^^- in. The string-band before 
it leaves the box is 1|-J in. across, while at the extremity where it is 
curved it is l^g in. Here there is a depression into which the fore-pillar 
was placed ; this is about 3f in. long ; next the sounding-board it is 1^ 
in. across, and at the lower termination 1|^ in. This depression is -^ in. 
deep. Within it there is a cavity into which the termination of the fore- 
pillar fitted. This cavity is } j^ in. from the upper extremity of the 
depression, and is j in. in width and 2^ in. in length. It may be 
remarked that the junction of the sounding-board and the end of the 
box is rather more than a right angle ; the back of the box, in fact, pro- 
trudes about |- in. at the sides of the projecting block and ^ in. at either 
extremity. The length of the box without either projection is 25^ in. 
The width at the upper extremity before it curves is 4^ in., and at the 
lower termination 11x6 in. (see Plate vi.).' 

For the greater portion the sides of the box are 4 in. deep, but above 
the termination of the semicircular endings to the string-band they are 
4^ in. The sides at the upper extremity are semicircular, from which 
to the lower termination the length is 25|- in. Above the semicircular 
termination the surface is curved towards the junction of the harmonic 
curve. All the curved surface has been removed, leaving a beaded edge 
along the termination of the front of the box and of the sides. This 
beaded edge may have extended across the curved termination of the 
back. It is now not visible, but as the upper portion of the ornamentation 
is carried round the back, it is probable that the beaded edge and the 
lower portion of the ornamentation was also continued, as indicated by 
dotted lines upon Plate vii. No. 1 . The upper portion of the back is curved 
so as to meet the harmonic curve. Surrounding the oval space reserved for 
the junction of the box and harmonic curve there is a very neatly carved 
bead." This oval space, when examined from the side, will be found to have 

' The measurements are from the Harp, but the ^ This bead does not cross the front of the box, 

outlines shown upon Plate vi. are the continuations but commences at the shoulders, where it is ^ in. 

of the sides and lower termination, and may be high, while at the back it is | in. high, 
different, as portions of the edges are worn away. 


a diagonal inclination.^ Within this oval space there is a depression into 
which the end of the harmonic curve is placed. The depth of this depres- 
sion near the front is -^^^ in., and near the back about ^ in. The length of 
the back of the box measured along the curve formed by the back of the 
shoulders is 27^ in., but in a straight line it is 27 in. The board closing 
the cavity at the back received from the artificer as much attention as the 
other portions of the box. At the upper extremity it is battlemented in 
form^ (see Plate vii.. No. l), the box portion being undercut ; the board, 
which is |- in. thick, was simply slipped in and retained in position by a 
few pegs or nails at the lower termination, where as well as at the sides 
there is a rebate. The back, although flat for the most part, is slightly 
convex at the lower termination (see Plate vii.). This curvature has 
evidently not been caused by friction. At the sides of the box the 
thickness is f in., and internally the depth at the centre is 3f in. and 
at the lower termination S^ in. ; the thickness at the lower extremity 
being 1^ in. If there is a strengthening tongue it cannot be of any 
considerable length. From the termination of the projecting block to 
the upper extremity of the box the length is 28|- in. The sides of the 
box of this Harp are much worn by the friction of the hands and wrists 
of the performers. 

The harmonic curve is most gracefully formed.^ Where it leaves 
the box the section is oval, then it is pear-shaped, and, further on, the 
upper portion becomes nearly sharp. Here there is a most graceful 
Highland hump, from which to the bass termination the sharpness of 
the upper portion continues. Along the sides and following the curves 
there is a delicately carved bead. At some distance from the junction 
of the harmonic curve and box this bead takes a downward curve and is 
continued underneath, where the beads on either side meet, the junction 
being in the form of a A, the apex being 2§ in. from the box, measuring 
along the curve. The sides of the harmonic curve below the beads 
are flat. Here brass bands, pierced for twenty-nine tuning-pegs, are 

' The length of this diagonal inclination is ,SJ semicircular terminations of the raised string- 
in. The angle formed by it, with measurements, band. 

may be seen upon the illustration, Plate v. ^ The correct form will be seen from the 

photogravure plates. The diagrams (Plate viii.) 

2 The highest portions being 23| in., and the are from rubbings and tracings, and are intended 

lowest portion 22 1';. in. from the lower end of the to show the ornamentation, and as far as possible 

box ; the terminations corresponding with the the exact place where it occurs. 




placed. They are thin and are attached by an unusual number of 
small nails, there being sixteen holes above and seventeen and eighteen 
below. These bands form single curves, and measure along the curves 
13|^ in., and are f in. wide. They have for ornament two parallel 
incised lines running above and below the tuning-pegs and round the 
treble and baas tei'minations. Below these metal bands the surface of 
the wood has been slightly removed, although the flat form is still con- 
tinued. Underneath, from the A to near the bass, the harmonic curve is 
convex ; this curvature gradually diminishes, and the surface eventually 
becomes flat. Towards the termination there is a depression Sw in. long. 
If in. wide in front, and Ijlj in. wide at the back, and ^ in. deep, for the 
reception of the fore-pillar.^ The termination of the harmonic curve at the 
bass is in form a parallelogram surmounted by an acute angle, which is 
the sectional form between the bass and the Highland hump. The brass 
tuning-pegs are unlike those upon other examples. They are about 3 in. 
in length ; the diameter of the circular portion is at the string end more 
than ^ in., and at the thickest end ^ in. Some, not all, have two circles 
incised about f in. from the tuning end. The section of the portions 
made to fit the tuning-key will be found in every case to be oblong. 
Many of the oblong terminations have double lines crossing each other, 
thus forming four crosses, while each of the original tuning-pegs Fig. iv. 
has a single cross incised upon the termination of the string '33#@ 
end (Fig. iv.). At a subsequent and much later period, when an 
additional bass string was required, a thicker and shorter tuning-peg of 
iron was added beneath the peg-band. It may be remarked that the 
termination upon the tuning end is in this case square, and as it did 
not fit the key it is much worn. Here upon the termination there 
are two incised lines from the angles which form a cross, perhaps 
added for uniformity. The string end of this peg is split.^ The shortest 
string measures 3 in., the twenty-ninth string is 24;^^ in., the thirtieth 
or additional string 2i^^ in. 

1 Within this depression there is a cavity into aJditiou. Pegs with split terminations may be 

which the end of the fore-pillar is inserted. As seen upon Welsh and French Harps. 
it is not visible, the dimensions have not been Besides the additional peg referred to, there are 

ascertained. others of iron which were most probably siip- 

- The writer does not know of any Irish or plied by Messrs. Gunu and Elouis. Three of 

Highland Harps upon which pegs so formed are to these have holes for strings, and five have split 

be found. The one described is certainly a late terminations. 


The fore-pillar is most reraarkable. At either extremity of the T 
formation there are beautifully executed representations of reptiles' 
heads. Both of these show what may be called protruding lips some- 
what pointed in front, from which the lips gradually diminish in width, 
the sections for some distance being more or less concave. They 
become flat when carried along the back of the T formation (see Plate ix.). 
This flat ribbon will be hereafter noticed when the decoration is 
described. What may be called the snouts are in both cases above 
the lips. These, which are also pointed in front, are carried along 
either side of the heads, and end in points at the back of the eyes. 
The sections of these parts are also more or less concave. Along the 
centre of the upper portion of the heads (which are slightly curved 
along the profile) there are flattened beads, and upon either side are 
eyes, the balls of which are most prominent and have deep marks in 
the centre. Above and at the back of the eyes the spaces are concave. 
For representations of these heads, actual size, see Plate iv. 

From the projecting block to the reptile's head there is a flattened 
bead along the centre ; near to the projecting block these portions slope 
slightly from the bead to the sides, while near to the reptile's head 
they curve considerably upon either side of the bead, and here the 
edges will be found to be rounded off, probably by the friction caused by 
the hand when moving the instrument. From the harmonic curve to 
the other reptile's head there is also a flattened bead along the centre ; 
near to the harmonic curve this portion of the fore-pillar is very slightly 
convex ; near to the reptile's head it slopes considerably from the bead 
to the sides, while at the centre it is flat. This portion of the pillar has 
not been subjected to much friction, and is little worn. The T formation^ 
is curved in front and at the sides, so the term flange cannot be used 
when describing the back. Along the centre of the T formation there 
is a flattened bead, which will be hereafter noticed. At present, the arc 
formed by the back of the fore-pillar is at its highest 4 jig- in. from the 
plane. The back of the fore-pillar is concave across its entire length. 
The outside curve measures 30 in., the inside curve 24§ or 24^ in. 

It is clear that while the work of the fore-pillar was in progress a 

• Mr. Bell could not have been aware of the object of the T formation when he referred to it 
as " a convenient bold for the hand " ! 




defect was discovered in the wood at the angle formed by the back and 
the left side. The defective portion was removed, and a fresh piece 
inserted. At a later period this must have become loose, and glue or 
some species of cement was applied to keep it in its place, but without 
effect. It is now missing. The artist who designed this Harp had 
unquestionably great artistic feeling, and the work of the artificer who 
constructed the instrument could scarcely be surpassed. The three 
portions of the Harp were kept together by the tension of the strings 

It would appear that the decorator had a cei'tain number of designs 
ready prepared, which he occasionally but rarely varied. The design for 
the ornamentation of the sounding-board was first indicated by him with 
the greatest accuracy. Some of these lines are still visible. This design 
shows at the centre at either side crosses enclosed within circles, and at 
the lower extremity upon either side the oi'namentation terminates in 
Latin crosses. The designs upon both sides of the sounding-board are 
precisely the same, and are shown by fine but deeply burned lines. 
A burned line runs along the lower termination at either side, and it is 
evident there has been a burned line upon either side of the sounding- 
board, as a portion upon the left side may still be seen, and the com- 
mencement of the line at the semicircle upon the right side is visible.^ 
Upon the raised string-band there are burned lines commencing at the 
first incised lines at the semicircular terminations ; these are carried along 
the sides and are |- in. from the edges, and cross the string-band at the 
lower termination -^ in. from the depression. Above the semicircular 
curves of the string-band there is a very beautiful foliaceous pattern 
shown by depressions and incised lines. The two sides of the box have 
the same design slightly varied at the semicircular endings ; the Lines 
and curves are all burned in (see Plate vi.).' If the reader will again 
examine the representation of the Harp upon the stone at Keills (p. 155), 
he will find the ornamentation to be similar in character to that upon 
the sides of the box of the " Queen Mary " Harp. Above the senii- 

1 It was evidently the intention of the artificer - Upon the right side there are traces of a 

to surround each sound-hole with a burned line, burned line along the angle formed by the side 
but this he only carried out in the case of the and the sounding-board. The other angles are so 
lower sound-hole upon the left side. worn that the lines, which probably ran along 

them also, are not visible. 


circular terminations of the sides are what may be called the shoulders ; 
the designs upon both shoulders are the same, double lines connecting 
semicircles within which are small single circles. The upper portions of 
these extend round the back, and are shown by burned lines (see Plate vi.). 
The lower end of the box is also ornamented in burned double lines, 
curves, etc., besides which there has evidently been a surrounding line 
near to the angles formed by the sounding-board sides and back, the 
first mentioned being still visible (see Plate vii.). The back, a portion of 
the Harp which probably as a rule received but scant attention, was no 
doubt also largely decorated in a similar manner. Straight lines and 
two small circles with double semicircles are still visible at either side, 
the centres of both of the latter being 9f in. from the lower termina- 
tion of the box (see Plate vri.). The projecting block was carved to 
represent the head of a hound facing downwards ; the falling ears 
upon either side are in relief; a portion of one eye, shown by incised 
lines, is still visible upon the right side ; and the open mouth and teeth, 
shown in relief and by incised lines, are distinct upon both sides of the 
block (see Plate vii.). 

Running along the lower edges of the sides of the harmonic curve, 
from the bead to the bass termination, there are incised lines. These 
were carried along the edge of the termination. There are also incised 
lines upon either side, along and close to the edge of the upper portion, 
from the bass termination to the hump. These were also carried along 
the sides of the termination. 

The decorations upon the sides of the harmonic curve are altogether 
shown by burned lines, curves, and circles ; ^ they are the same upon 
both sides, excepting the portions below the metal bands for the 
tuning-pegs, where they are dissimilar. Upon the left, springing from 
the incised line, there are thirteen single semicircles which are intersected 
by thirteen others, thus forming an arcade of twenty-seven Gothic arches ; 
while upon the right, double lines connecting semicircles, etc., occur 
between the incised line and the metal band through which the tuning- 

' As an unsightly piece of metal has heen nailed incomplete circles, 1^ in. in diameter, with a small 

to the back of the box and extends 4i in. along circle in the centre of each. The outermost of 

the harmonic curve, covering a portion of the the concentric circles are about 2 in. apart, 

ornamentation, the exact termination of the They may be semicircles joined by lines, but this 

design is not visible ; but about j in. from the box is uncertain {see Plate viii.). 
may be seen upon either side two concentric but 









The measurements are given in inches. Abbreviations : — L., length ; W., width ; C, circumference ; 
R. T., round the T formation ; W. T., width of the T formation. 



pegs pass. The front of the harmonic curve at the bass has upon the outside 
incised lines, within which are Unes, semicircles, and small circles burned 
(see Plate viii.). Beneath the harmonic curve, and between the A formed 
by the beads already referred to and the junction of the harmonic curve 
and fore-pillar, there is a delicately carved moulding, still as sharp as 
when it left the hands of the artificer, and it may be remarked that this 
moulding has a semicircular termination (see Plate viii.). 

The fore-pillar is most beautifully decorated ; carving in relief, 
incised lines, and engraved work, touched up here and there by a finely- 
pointed hot iron and enriched by staining, are used with great 
skill. Upon the right side there is a foliaceous and trefoil pattern ; 
then within a circle, surmounted by pellets, a two-legged reptile with 
upturned head is represented with a fish in its jaws, and above a horse- 
like animal with its right foreleg and hoof raised to its mouth. Along 
the side, at the back of the T formation, there is a foliaceous pattern 
ending in interlaced stems and leaves, above which, within a circle 
surrounded by pellets, there is a fine representation of a lion standing 
upon three legs with the left foreleg raised in front. Here the centre 
has been hollowed out, apparently to receive the setting for a gem. 
Above the circle there is a foliaceous design (see Plate ix.). Upon the 
left side, near to the projecting block, there is a foliaceous and trefoil 
design ; then a circle surrounded by pellets, within which is represented 
a winged dragonesque biped with a triple tail. Along this side, at 
the back of the T formation, there is a foliaceous design differing from 
the one upon the right side ; and above, within a circle surrounded 
by pellets,^ is represented a creature with a head like a bird, four 
clawed feet, wings, and a large tail, and above a foliaceous design (see 
Plate IX. ).= 

The creatures represented within the circles surrounded by pellets 
are admirably drawn. The reader may remark that a cross occurs upon 
both sides of the fore-pillar, and that these crosses do not quite har- 
monise with the designs (see Plate ix.) ; also that the letters "D.O." 
occur four times, that is, behind the eyes of each of the reptiles' heads. 
The front of the fore-pillar below the T formation is divided by a flattened 

' The pellets are not ia relief. In each case - The terminations of the T formation are 

they are shown by burned lines. indicated. 



bead, and upon either side there is incised and line interlaced ornamenta- 
tion. Between the T formation and the harmonic curve we also find the 
flattened bead with a foliaceous design shown by incised and line orna- 
mentation. The ornamentation of the T formation is, for the most part, 
in relief, and is exceptionally fine. The lips of the heads of the reptiles 
facing the jarojecting block end upon either side in bands or ribbons, 
which are continued along the back of the T formation. Four and a 
half inches fi'om the commencement of the lip there are four deeply en- 
graved lines upon the right and three upon the left ; the ribbons take an 
upward curve, and are the commencement of the interlaced patterns. 
The lip of the upper head is treated in a similar manner, the bands or 
ribbons in this case having two incised lines, one upon either side. The 
designs of the lower and upper portions upon the T formation are 
difiereut. Along the outside of the snouts are a series of inverted and 
oblique semicircles. The eyeballs are surrounded by double incised lines, 
between which there is a series of inverted semicircles from the outer 
lines. The beads running along the centre of the reptiles' heads have 

semicircles upon either side. A flattened bead 
is carried along the front of the T and divides 
the ornamentation. This band becomes wider 
as it approaches the centre, and has an incised 
interlaced quadruple ribbon pattern. Here there 
were six silver bosses, fovir of which remain.^ 
From the flattened bead stems branch upon 
either side, terminating in circles in relief ; these 
circles have incised and line ornamentation 
(Figs. V. and vi. ) ; one has an interlaced pattern and very delicate line 
work.^ The back of the fore-pillar has finely designed interlaced 
patterns, shown by incised and delicate lines enriched by staining (see 
Plate IX.). 

In the foregoing description the writer has simply indicated the 
manner in which the various designs have been executed. The illustra- 
tions are from rubbings and gelatine tracings ; they are to scale, and 
have been compared with the original ornamentation. 

• At either end there are holes. These may 
have been for nails with knobs ; they apparently 

were not for bosses. 

- The block illustrations are actual size. 



No. I. Upper portion of the back. The dotted line indicates the probable'original termination. 

No. 2. Remains of ornamentation upon the left side of the back. No. 3. Do. upon the right side of the back. 

No. 4. Right side of the projecting block. The missing portion restored. No. 5. Left side of the projecting block. 

No. 6. Lower front of the projecting block, showing the portion worn away. No. 7. The lower termination of the box. 


In the chapter upon the Irish Harp, the writer has stated that the fore- 
pillar was occasionally shortened by the tension of the strings, and the 
fore-pillar of the " Queen Mary " Harp has undoubtedly been so shortened. 
If the reader examines Plates ii. and iii. he will see that the fore-pillar 
no longer fits the depression made in the box and projecting block for 
its reception, and that the back of the fore-pillar rises ^ in. above the 
depression ; this measurement appeared to the writer to represent the 
shortening of the fore-pillar.^ 

On account of a slight curvature of the fore-pillar to the left, the 
right side is somewhat the longer of the two. The writer consequently 
accepts 24f in., the measurement of the length along the curve of the left 
side, as most probably correct. The length along the plane is 22-|- in. ; 
with 1^ in. added to either side it is 22^ in. An arc, the centre of which 
is 17f in. from either extremity, will be found to measure along the 
curve 24f in., and to rise i^g in. from the plane. It is probable that 
this was the original curve of the fore-pillar, and that the shortening 
occurred more towards the lower than towards the upper portion of the 
fore-pillar.- It may here be stated that the metal loop for the thirtieth 
string was attached to the depression after the fore-pillar had become 
shortened, and probably during the life of the last person who is known 
to have used the Harp. 

Along the back of the T formation and upon the left side there is a 
crack about 8|- in. long, more than ^ in. deep, and more than |- in. wide, 
the development of which must to a large extent have been the cause of 
the shortening of the fore-pillar. By the shortening of the fore-pillar the 
form of the Harp has been altered (see Plate v.). It is evident that the 
cavity in the pi-qjecting block for the fore-pillar was made larger than was 
necessary, and it is probable that this was required for the proper adjust- 
ment of the parts, and that before they were united the space near to the 

' Before making a positive assertion as to the inserted in the depression, the upper extremity 

shortening, the following test was applied. A in front would be ^ in. above the lower portion 

piece of stiff paper of the exact form of the side of the harmonic curve, and 1| in. from the bass 

of the fore-pillar was placed in the position the end ; and the back portion | in. above the lower 

fore-pillar originally occupied in the depression, portion, and 4'j'^t in. from the end. 

and the positions of the front and of the back of ''A fore-pillar of this form has been found to 

the upper portion were then noted. The paper exactly fit at both extremities, whereas one i in. 

showed that were the fore-pillar again accurately longer will not do so. 


termination of the projecting block was filled by a wedge. It may have 
been necessaiy at some time to remove the strings and separate the fore- 
pillar from the block, when the person who replaced them must have 
neglected to insert the wedge. The reader will understand that, when 
the fore-pillar became shortened, the pressure caused by the tension of 
the strings in place of being distributed over three inches fell upon one 
point, and that the thrust was towards the termination of the fore-pillar. 
There being no restraining wedge, the fore-pillar was forced to the end 
of the cavity y\- in. in advance, and destroyed the termination of the 
depression at the end of the projecting block, which had been -^^ in. wide. 
The fore-pillar is now ^ in. from the end of the depression nearest to 
the sounding-boai"d. 

Turning to the junction of the fore-pillar and harmonic curve, upon 
the left side of the latter we find that at the nineteenth peg-hole a 
strengthening plate has been placed across the peg-hole band. There 
can be little doubt that the band, which is thin, has there given way. 
Continuing the line of the lower portion of the harmonic curve past the 
junction of the fore-pillar, we find that from the back of the fore-pillar 
onwards the harmonic curve has been thrust upwards, and that there 
are two cracks. Upon the right side we find that the metal band has 
been fractured where it is pierced for the twenty-fourth tuning-peg, and 
that a broad piece of metal has been placed across the band ; that the 
cracks, already noticed upon the left side, are strongly marked (see 
Plate VIII.), and the alteration in the form where the fore-pillar joins is 
more pronounced. What has been noticed as occurring at the junction 
of the fore-pillar and the projecting block is here most distinctly seen. 
The harmonic curve, supported at one point only, has been gradually 
dragged down by the tension of the strings, until by the yielding of the 
wood caused by the cracks the two pieces again came in contact. Here 
we also find the fore-pillar has been thrust forward ^ in. 

The string-band was probably originally almost a straight line, but 
owing to the tension of the strings the sounding-board has been drawn 
up one inch exclusive of the string-band.^ The string-band has been so 
strained that a crack developed along the string-holes — i.e. from the 

' This has had the effect of slightly opening the back of the box at the right side, indicated by 
a dark line (Plate vii., No. 3). 


tenth to the fifteenth. This crack is ^ in. deep/ the thickness of the 
band being ^ in. The defect in the formation of the "shoes of the strings " 
was then apparent to the possessor of the Harp, and small pieces of 
metal, some with semicircles at either end, and measuring from |^ in. to one 
inch in length, were nailed across and beneath each of the "shoes of the 
strings." These unsightly additions may be seen upon Plate i., but upon 
Plate VI. they have been omitted. The upper portion of the front of the 
harmonic curve has been broken oft", evidently the result of an accident, 
as the wood is not badly worm-eaten. The right side of the box has in 
two places been badly burned. 

Examining the junction of the harmonic curve and the box, a wedge 
of wood -n'ill be found inserted at the back of the harmonic curve where 
it joins the box. This wedge upon the left side is about jV i^-> ^^'^ 
upon the right side of the back ^ in. thick, and may have been 
inserted to fill the cavity caused by the change in the form when 
the bass termination became depressed in consequence of the shortening 
of the fore-pillar. Probably at the time this wedge was inserted another 
wedge was placed upon the right side. It is possible there may have 
been a cavity there also caused by the tension of the strings dragging 
the harmonic curve towards the left. 

Supposing the harmonic curve to have originally fitted the depres- 
sion, it is evident that upon the left side it is ^^^ in. higher at the back 
than it should be, while upon the right side it is 3% in. higher than it 
should be. 

The back of this Harp is instructive. This portion had originally 
been as finely decorated as the end of the box, but only two vestiges of 
the decoration are now to be seen. The greater portion of the ornamen- 
tation upon the lower portion of the shoulders has also disappeared. 
The corners at the lower termination are worn, that upon the left side 
more so than that upon the right. The nose and brow of the hound 
have disappeared, and only a portion of the eye upon the right side 
remains. It is evident that, after performing upon the instrument, the 
harper placed his right hand under the back of the shoulders and his 
left hand upon the lower portion of the fore-pillar, and carried it to 

' The width of the crack is ^ in. Where it writer has Dot considered it advisable to show the 
occurs the striug-band is somewhat wider. The additional width upon Plate vi. 


its stand or bench ; then, placmg it so that the projecting block and 
left corner of the box first touched the bench, moved it forward as he 
lowered the box, and then pushed it along the bench until it was in its 
proper position. This appears to be important evidence as to the position 
of a Celtic Harp when not in use. The Harp has been most carefully 
treated, and it must have taken many long years of friction to have 
obliterated the deeply burned lines upon the back, and upon the back of 
the shoulders. 

According to tradition there were attached to this Harp representa- 
tions of Queen Maiy and the royal arms of Scotland, worked in gold, 
and it is believed that these were I'emoved and stolen about the year 
1745. It is evident, from the numerous nails that may still be seen, 
that some enrichments had been added after the construction of the 
instrument. Upon the bass termination of the fore-pillar there are four 
brass pins, and immediately below, upon the front of the fore-pillar, 
there are twelve brass nails. Upon the upper portion of the right side 
of the fore-pillar, in the centre of the circle surrounded by pellets, there 
is a cavity evidently intended to contain the setting of a gem, and here 
we find, besides one brass nail, holes that certainly may not be worm- 
holes, as this portion of the instrument is not badly worm-eaten. 

Before concluding the description of this Harp attention may be 
directed to the frequent representations of the Christian symbol. The 
cross appears four times upon the sounding-board, twice upon the 
fore-pillar ; and supposing, as is most probable, the twenty-nine tuning- 
pegs had each double lines crossing each other upon the tuning end, 
and each a single cross upon the string end, the cross would have been 
represented one hundred and forty-five times upon the tuning-pegs alone. 
From these numerous representations of the Christian symbol it seems 
probable that this Harp was constructed either for some churchman or 
for some eminently religious layman. We know that the Clarscha was 
used in Ireland within some hundred and fifty years to accompany 
the celebration of the Mass, and it was, no doubt, so used at lona and 
throughout the Western Islands. 

This Harp is comparatively light, the weight being slightly under 
twelve pounds. The box is stated to be of willow wood,^ and is a rich 

' Drummond's Scottish Wcajions. 


1 » 

] f 

No. 1. The front of the bass termination. 

No. 2. Section at the ninth tuning peg, showing section of the moulding. 

No. 3. The moulding underneath. No. 4. The left side. No. 5. The right side. 


mahogany colour. It is badly worm-eaten. The harmonic curve, which 
has suftered less from the ravages of the worm, is perhaps of the same 
wood. It is a brownish red. The fore-pillar is of a harder wood and has 
a closer grain, and apparently originally was of the colour of boxwood. 
With the exception of the T formation it has been very carefully 
stained here and there ; the T itself has probably all been stained or 
coated with coloured varnish. 

Comparing the " Queen Mary " Harp with the specimen preserved in 
Trinity College, Dublin, we find the box of the latter to be less deep, the 
ornamentation to be more elaborate and more varied, while the drawing 
is less geometrical, and consequently moi'e pleasing. The ornamentation 
upon the sides of the harmonic curve of both specimens are very similar, 
while the moulding underneath in both specimens ends in semicircles. 
The lower termination of the Trinity College Harp is plain and coarsely 
fashioned, while that of the " Queen Mary " Harp is well ornamented. 
The ornamentation upon the sounding-board and the sides of the box 
of the Trinity College Harp may be extended at the lower extremity, 
i.e. if the semicircles are completed the patterns will then terminate in 
circles, whereas the designs upon the "Queen Mary" Harp are complete 
and do not admit of extension.^ The comparison cannot be carried 
further, as the fore-pillar of the Trinity College Harp is out of harmony 
with the box and harmonic curve. The Trinity College Harp has been 
shamefully tampered with, while the "Queen Mary" Harp has not 
suftered from the hands of restorers. 

This Harp must always be remarkable for elegance of form, exactness 
of construction, beauty of ornamentation, and wonderful preservation ; 
and although its right to be entitled " Queen Mary's Harp " may be 
questioned, it may well be called the Queen of ancient Harps. 

The " Queen Mary " Harp, when strung with wire, was last played 
upon by John Robertson, the eleventh laird of Lude, Perthshire, who 
was a noted performer. James Macintosh, father of the Rev. Donald 
Macintosh, the author of a Collection of Gaelic Proverbs, when visiting 
at Lude asked the laird to play the Harp. After supper Lude and 
Macintosh retired to another room in which were two Harps, one of 
which had belonged to Queen Mary. " James," said Lude, " here are 

' The pattern shown upon the Harp sculptured at Keills could not be extended. 


two Harps : the largest one is the loudest, but the small one is the 
sweetest ; which do you wish to hear played ? " Macintosh said the 
small one. Lude took up the Harp indicated, and played upon it till 

The Kev. Donald Macintosh tells us that he heard this from his 
father, and was so impressed that, being in the neighbourhood of Lude 
about 1803, he called upon General Robertson, the great-grandson 
of John, the eleventh laird of Lude, who showed him both the 

Macintosh at the time was Gaelic translator and keeper of Gaelic 
records to the Highland Society of Scotland, and after his return to 
Edinburgh he informed the Society that two Harps were preserved at 
Lude. In 1805 General Robertson was communicated with, and the 
Harps were sent by him to the Society for examination.^ 

The Harps, when brought to Edinburgh, were exhibited before the 
Society. Drawings were made of both by Daniel Somerville, which were 
afterwards engraved by him for the purpose of illustrating "An Historical 
Enquiry respecting the Performance on the Harp in the Highlands of 
Scotland, by John Gunn, 1807." Mr. Gunn states that the smaller of the 
two, the " Queen Mary " Harp, was then in a good state of preservation, 
and so complete and sound in all its parts that it looked as if it had 
been made some eighty years. The Society expressed a wish to have 
it strung with brass wire, and this was accordingly done. Mr. Gunn 
says : " It did not, however, occur to us that the harpers had a peculiar 
manner of producing the tone from brass strings by using their nails, 
which they allowed to grow to a certain length and form for that 
purpose. The touch or manner of producing the vibration of the strings 
by the modern performers is on a different principle altogether, and 
can only be effected on strings made of the intestines of animals." ^ 
It is fortunate that this was his belief, for supposing the instrument 
had, when strung with wire, been kept tuned for a lengthened period, 

• Of all the pieces played upon the instrument ^ Although Mr. Gunn knew of the meeting of 

by Mr. Robertson, "Sniper Chiurn na Leod," or Harpers at Belfast in 1792 (note, p. 23), he was 

Lude's Supper, a composition of Rory Dall, is the unaware of the fact that of the ten Harpers 

only one remembered. present only one, Hempson, whose age was 

2 Gaelic Proverbs, edited by Alex. Nicolson, ninety-seven, pulled the strings with the finger- 

Edn. 1881, pp. 409-420. nails. 


and supposing it was then as badly worm-eaten as it is now/ it would 
in all probability have been pulled to pieces and destroyed. Mr. Elouis," 
a well-known performer upon the Pedal Harp, strung the instrument 
with gut, and played a number of airs upon it in presence of several 
members of the Society. The instrument was found to be more remark- 
able for sweetness than for power, the notes produced from the treble 
being much superior to those produced from the bass. This was 
certainly to be expected from an instrument which had been intended 
to be strung with wire. The strings were cut close, but, unfortunately, 
the huge pegs used by Elouis for securing the gut-strings in the string- 
holes were not removed, and still disfigure the instrument. There can 
be little doubt that Elouis supplied a number of the iron tuning- 
pegs already noticed. General Kobertson's communications to the 
Society are, unfortunately, lost; but as he lived up to 1820, and must 
have been aware of Mr. Gunn's statements, and, as far as is known, 
did not contradict them, they may be accejjted as his own. 

This Harp has been illustrated by John Gunn in his Historical 
Enquiry ; ' the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 
(vol. XV. ), in which many details are also represented ; The Book of the 
True Highlander ; Musical Instruments, Hipkins and Gibb ; and Drum- 
mond's Scottish Weapons. That in the last-mentioned work is perhaps 
the most successful of the representations.^ 

1 The engraving of the Lament Harp shows cross does not appear upon either side of the box. 
that it was then damaged at one of the corners This plate was afterwards used for James Hogg's 
of the sounding-board. If this damage is ex- Queen's Wake (Edin., 1819). 

amined, it will be seen that it occurred not before ■■ Upon only one illustration, that in Drum- 
but after the instrument had been hopelessly mond's Scottish Weapons, is the ornamentation 
riddled by worms. If the Lamont Harp was upon the shoulders indicated. In this work there 
worm-eaten in 1807, the "Queen Mary" is almost is also a page showing details, none of which are 
certain to have been in the same worm-eaten by Drummond, but some are apparently from the 
state it now is. blocks belonging to the Society of Antiquaries. 

2 Elouis was a performer of note, and an It is to be regretted that the details which appear 
arranger of Scottish music for the Harp. He was in the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, 
a successful teacher in Edinburgh up to 181S. and in Drummond's Scottish Weapons, are not as 
The cause of the collapse of his classes and of accurate as detail drawings should be. 

his leaving the city is amusingly related in the Neither the lines running along the edge of the 

Memoirs of a Highland Lady, p. .SI 3. lower termination and side of the sounding- 

^ There is a deplorable error in this illustration. board, nor the shortening of the tore-pillar, are 

Upon the centre of the right side of the box a represented upon any of the illustrations, 
cross is represented, enclosed within circles. A 



That a vast amount of music was composed for the Clarscha or High- 
land Harp we have every reason to believe, but unfortunately it is now 
a matter of difficulty to say positively what is Highland Harp music. 
The instrument being superseded by the violin, music for it, although 
remembered, is certain to have been altered, and impossible harp-notes 
introduced. In " Give Me Your Hand," a melody which may reason- 
ably be supposed to have been composed for the Harp, we find in a 
copy printed by Burk Thumoth, c. 1750, an impossible note, and this 
note has been repeated by Bunting, who published the melody as Irish. 
Confronted with this difficulty, the writer has found it necessary to 
confine the illustrations to a few melodies, the composition of Rory 
Dall (Morrison), the harper of Macleod of Macleod, which there is reason 
to suppose were written for the Harp, and others that could be played 
upon the Clarscha or Highland Harp with thirty strings. 








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Abbott, Rev. Thomas K., Preface ix. 

Academy, the Council of the Pvoyal Irish, 

Preface ix. 
Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer, 142. 
Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer, excerpt 

from, relating to the Highland Harp, 150-154. 
Adair, Robert, of HoUybrook, 100. 
Aedh, a professor of singing, 14. 
Aileen Aroon (Irish Air), 133. 
Alderford House, Roscommon, 117. 
Allen, J. Romilly, Esq., Preface ix. 
Altbar Chapel, Aberlemno, 154. 
Anderson, Joseph, Esq., LL.D., Preface ix. 
Anne of Denmark's entry into Edinburgh, haut- 

bois and harp played at, 149. 
Archibald, Earl of Argyll, 149. 
Art MacMurrough, 17. 

Bacon, on the Irish harp, 21. 

Bag-pipes, used in war, 19, 22. 

Ballinderry, harp-mountings found at, G3. 

Balquhidder and Inchmahome, bards at, 141. 

O'Bauahan, William, 25. 

O'Banahan, fourteenth century harp of, 158. 

Bard, definition of the name, 6, 7. 

Bardesy of the Bards, 6. 

Bards, 6. 

Bards in Scotland, 140. 

Barnaby Rich, 21. 

Barry, Ellen, 65. 

Bateman, Thomas, 92. 

Beauford, W., 37. 

Belfast, Council of the Nat. Hist, and Philosophical 

Society of. Preface ix. 
Belfast, distinguished harpers in 1792 at, 45. 
Belfast Harp Society, 101. 
Belfast, meeting of harpers in 1792 at, 49. 
Belfast Museum, harp in the, 84. 
Bell, inquiry as to the two Scottish harps, by 

C. D., 158. 
Bell, John, of Dungannon, 107. 
Betham, Sir William, 27. 
Black, Messrs. A. and C. . Preface ix. 
Black Rosebud, The [Irish Air), 129. 
Bloomfield, J. C, 114. 
Book of Glendalough, the, 3. 

Bountas, a performer on the "Cornut," 144. 

Braes, 6. 

Brian Boroihme, 4. 

O'Brien, Donnchadh Cairbreach, 12. 

Brompton, Abbot Johannes, 10. 

Brosnach of the Sai, 6. 

Browne, W. I., Esq., Preface ix. 

Bruce, Sir Henry Hervey, 91. 

Buchanan, George, 140. 

Buchanan, of Spitel, 149. 

Bunting, 116, 117. 

Bunting, O'Curry's strictures upon, 46. 

Bunting's collections, 120. 

Buuworth, collection of harps, by Rev. Charles, 


Bunworth Harp, the, 91, 116. 
Bunworth, Rev. Charles, 91. 
Burns March {Irish Air), 135. 
Buttevant, Viscount, 65. 

Camden on the Irish poets and harpers, 19. 

Camner, .John, hite-player, 144. 

Camus O'Carnill, a harper, 14. 

Caradoc of Lhancarvau, 10. 

Carolan, 4S. 

Carolan, destruction of the harp of, 115. 

Carolan, Turlough, musician, 9. 

Carolan s Concerto (Irish Air), 136. 

Castide, description of regal hospitality offered 

to minstrels, etc., by Henry, 16. 
Castle Bellew, a harp played at, 109. 
Castle Caldwell Harp, the, 113. 
Castle Otway Harp, 28, 34, 35, 82. 
Castle Otway Harp, description of, 73. 
Cavalcade of the Boijne, T)i.e (Irish Air), 125. 
Chapel of Keills, harp upon stone at, 155. 
Charlemont Harp, the, 105. 
Charlemont, Mary, Countess of, 105. 
Christison, Sir Robert, note on growth of peat 

by, 119. 
Cir, a poet, 3. 
Clarence, Act anent Irish agents, by Lionel, 

Duke of, 15. 
Clarscha, or Irish Harj), compared with the 

Scottish Harp, 148. 
Clavyehordes played by James iv., 142. 




Clynn, John, friar of Kilkenny, 14. 
Coffey, George, Esq., Preface ix. 
Cole, G. A. J., Esq., Preface ix. 
Conaire Mor, 5. 

O'Conmhaigh, Chief Professor of Music, 14. 
Conuaught, famous for music, 90. 
O'Connell, 107. 

Constable, Archibald, Esq., Preface ix. 
" Contention of the Bards," the, 8. 
Corcoiche, County Limerick, 4. 
Cormac Ulfaila, 4. 
Coulin (Irish Air), 123. 
Cox, Walter, 115. 
Crafting, a harp-player, 2. 
Croker, Crofton, 91. 
Crusius, a harper, 21. 
Cuiseachs, pipes, 2. 
Cunga, 14. 
Curoi MacD.<iir^, 2. 

O'Curry's strictures on the Belfast harpers, 
criticism of, 51. 

Daderg, palace of, 5. 

Dalway Harp, the, 27, 35. 

Dalway Harp, inscriptions upon the, 67. 

Dawning of the Day, The {Irish Air], 126. 

Donaldson, George, Esq., Preface ix. 

O'Donnel, Prince of Connal, 145. 

Douglas, William, Esq., Preface ix. 

Downhill Harp, the, 34, 83, 88. 

Drawling Bog, harp found in, 1 18. 

Drumnaslad, 113. 

Dublin Museum, two harps in the, 82. 

Dublin, music in memory of Carolan, in the 

Rotunda at, 117. 
Dungan, James, 48. 
Dupplin, Perthshire, harp upon stone at, 154. 

Edinburgh, Irish Harp at, in National Museum, 

Egan, harp-maker, 105. 

Elouis, a performer on the pedal harp, 183. 

Eochad (Ollamh Fodhla), 4. 

Evelyn, John, testimony to the difficulty of play- 
ing the Irish harp by, 23. 

Feaghan geleash : or. Try if it is in tune {Irish Air), 

Feis Ceoil, in 1897, 52 n. 
FeisCeoil, 1899,79. 
Fenachus Law, 2. 
Ferceirtn^, a harper, 2. 
Ferriter, Pierce, 31. 
OTfogerty, Cornelius, 79. 

O'Ffogerty Harp, the, 26, 79. 

Fiddler's Content, The {Highland Air), 190. 

O'Finaghty, Hugh, 14. 

O'Finaghty, a tympanist, 14. 

Finglas, Patrick, 18. 

Finn, Thomas, 115. 

Fitzgerald, or Dalway Harp, 65. 

Fitzgerald, Lord Walter, Preface ix. 

Fitzgerald, Sir John Fitz-Edmond, 65. 

Fordun, John of, testimony on Scottish and Irish 

music by, 16. 
Eraser, Dr., Irish peasant's harp belonging to, 109. 

Galilei, Vincentio, 19. 

Galpin, Rev. F. W., 92, and Preface ix. 

Giraldus Cambrensis, 139. 

Giraldus Cambrensis, testimony to the excellence 

of Irish music by, 11. 
Oirls, have you seen George? {Irish Air), 127. 
Glen, Messrs., Preface ix. 
Glenarb, the O'Neills of, 111. 
Glover, Professor, 105. 
Godfrey of Boulogne, 10. 

Good, John, testimony to the Irish music by, 19. 
Graham, George Farquhar, 39. 
Granard, meeting of harpers at, 49. 
Grey, Nicholas, player on the drone, 145. 
Griff yth ap Conan, 11. 
Groves of Blarney, The {Irish Air), 130. 
Gunn, John, 167. 
Guun, John, inquiry as to the two Scottish harps 

by, 158. 

Hagen, Johann Van Der, 115. 

Hall, Mr. and Mrs. C. S., 91. 

O'Halloran, 114, 118. 

Hardiman, James, 115. 

Harp, by John Egan, 100. 

Bunting's names for the different kinds of, 


of Carolan, a harp known as the, 87. 

decay of the, 46. 

historical notices of the Irish, 1-23. 

Irish names for the different portions of the, 

Irish names for the different strings of the, 

40, 41. 
key and time phrases used in playing the, 

44, 45. 

method of playing the, 36. 

names of the graces performed on the, 42, 

43, 44. 
payments by James iv. to players on the 

Irish, 17, 18. 



Harp, portrait painted upon a, 85. 
scale and tuning of the, 37. 

Society at Belfast formed, 51. 

Society, formed in Dublin, 101. 

tabor, and chorus in Scotland, 139. 

twelfth-century poem on a lost Irish, 12, 13. 

the Welsh triple, Preface vii. 

upon stone at Keills, 173. 

with projecting block, earliest representa- 
tion of, 158. 

player, date of earliest notice of a, 2. 

Harps of the Belfast Society, 105. 
on coins of James vi., 156. 

of eight strings, 156. 

and olarischoes, difference between, 140. 

construction of the Irish, 27-36. 

destruction of theBunworth collection of, 118. 

existing specimens of, 55. 

in Ireland during seventeenth century, 

commonness of, 21, 22, 23. 

represented on painted ceilings, etc., 156. 

— — representations of the, 24-27. 

two kinds of Irish, 27. 

Harpers, antiquaries, etc., privileges enjoyed by, 
1 n. 

description of the dress of early, 5. 

• of Conaire Mor, the nine, 5. 

Harp-like instruments, Preface vii. 
Harte, Sir Richard, 118. 
O'Haughliiinn, Chief Tympanist. 17. 
Hehir, Jonathan, 110. 

Hempson, a harper, 47, 90. 

Hempson and O'Kane, 150. 

Hennell, E. W., 102, and Preface ix. 

Henry viii., the harp on the coins of, 27. 

Hewson, Rev. Canon, Preface ix. 

Higden's Polychronicon, 15. 

Highland Harp, music for the, 185-192. 

Highland Laddie {Air), 186, 187. 

Hodson, Lady, Preface ix. 

Hodson, Miss, Preface ix. 

Hodson, Sir Robert Adair, Bart., Preface ix. and 

Hollybrook Harp, the, 96, HI. 
Holy rood, 90. 
Hume, and others, Carolan's music published by, 

Ilbrechtach, a harper, 4. 
Image of Ireland, the, 25. 
Ingcel, an outlaw, 5. 
Inverlochy, musical instruments at, 149. 
lona, harp on a column of the cathedral at, 155. 

Jackson, James, 52. 

Jackson, William, Esq., Preface ix. 

James IV. as a patron of singers and players, 141. 

Jereval Abbey, Yorkshire, 10. 

Jerpoiut Abbey, late representation in stone of a 

harp at, 25. 
Jolly Ploughman, The (Irish Air), 131. 

Kearnagh Ui Donnell, 5. 

Keenan, Owen, a noted harper, 113. 

Kells, representation of the harp, in stone, at, 24. 

O'Kelly, Cormack, 73, SS. 

0' Kelly, Cormac, name of, carved ou a harp, 77. 

Kelly, John, 91. 

Kelly, John, harp by, 110. 

Kilcoy Castle, harp upon stone in, 155. 

Kildare Harp, the description of the, 70, 73, 79. 

Kilkea Castle, 72. 

Kilronan, 117. 

King of Cashel, the, 4. 

Kitty Noxolan {Irish Air), 134. 

Lady-playeks on the Irish Harp, 120. 
Lamentation of Deirdre for the Sonn of Usneach 

{Irish Air), 121. 
Lamont Harp, the, 25, 30, 148, 158. 
Lament Harp, description of the, 159-168. 
Land o' the Leal, The {Highland Air), 192. 
Langrishe, Richard, Esq., Preface ix. 
Ledwich, Edward, 37. 
Lee, John, 117. 

Leezie Lindsay {Highland Air), 188. 
Lennox, John, 149. 

Lesson for the Harp, A {Irish Air), 122. 
Limerick Harp, the, 118. 
Linden, Patrick, of the Fews, 79. 
Lindse, Edu. of Lennox, 85. 
Little Molly {Irish Air), 128. 
Logan, Isabella, 149. 
Longfield, T. H., Esq., Preface ix. 
Lude's Supper {Highland Air), 185. 
O'Luinin, 17. 
Lutare, Jacob, 143. 
Lute, in James iv.'s Court, the, 142. 
Luterers, fiddlers, drummers, etc., attached to 

great houses, 144-147. 
Lynch, Dr., 114. 

MacBride, Edward, 52. 
MacCarroll, a minstrel, 14. 
MacCarroll, William, the son of, 15. 
MacConmidhe, poet, 12. 
MacCurtin, a musician, 17. 
MacDermot Roe, the, 115, Preface ix. 
Macdonald, Murdoch, 149. 



M'Donnell, Dr. James, 45. 

MacEgan, Boetlims, 17. 

MacEgan and O'Bardan, harpers, 5. 

M'Googan, A., Esq., Preface ix. 

Macintosh, James, 181. 

Macintosh, Rev. Donald, 182. 

Maclean of Coll, 149. 

Maclean, Rev. Aleu M., Preface ix. 

MacLigg, chief poet, 4. 

MacLonain, chief poet, 4. 

MacMnaighneorach, 11. 

Magennis Harp, the, 110. 

Major, John, note on Scots music by, 139. 

Marsh, Sir Henry, 115. 

Martin, description of the islands of Scotland by, 

8, 141. 
Martyn, John, engraver, 116. 
Massey, General, 115. 
Massey, the Very Rev. Charles, 115. 
Melodies, played at Belfast, list of, 49 n. 
Middletou, Miss, Preface ix. 
Minstrels, Payments to Italian and French, 144, 

Miss Molly {Irish Air), 132. 
Molly Macalpin (Irish Air), 133. 
Molly, my Treasure [Irish Air), 129. 
O'Moghane, a minstrel, 15. 

Monitieth, Forfarshire, harp upon stone from, 154. 
Mungan, a harper, 47. 
Muscraighe of Ormond, 4. 

Museum, harp in the Victoria and Albert, 111. 
Music for the Irish Harp, 120. 
My Ain Kind Dearie [Highland Air), 192. 
Mylsone, James, 143. 

Napier, of Ballekinrain, 149. 

Netv Langolee [Irish Air), 132. 

Nigg, Ross-shire, harp upon stone at, 154. 

O'Neill, the harp of, 86, 111. 

O'Neill, Arthur, 51, 62 Addenda. 

Nobber, Westmeath, 117. 

Nora, my Thousand Treasures [Irish Air), 134. 

Nugent, Father Robert, 33. 

Old Trwigh, The [Irish Air), 126. 

OUamhs, or Doctors, 1. 

Ona, a har))er, 3. 

Otway-Ruthven, Mrs., Preface ix. 

Otway-Ruthven, Miss, Preface ix. 

Ousley, William, of Limerick, 110. 

Owenson, Sydney (Lady Morgan), 8, 51 n, 119. 

Pale, in Ireland, the, 7. 
Pate, a harper, 143. 

Peat-bogs, harps found in, 118, 119 n. 

Pierce, Nicholas, a great harper, 22. 

Plunkett, Lieut. -Colonel, C.B., Preface ix., 33. 

Poets and Bards, distinction between, 8. 

Poets, grades of the Irish, 6. 

Polydore Virgil, testimony to Irish music by, 18. 

Powell, medieval, Welsh historian, 11. 

Pretorius, 26. 

Pretorius, on the Irish harp, 21. 

Prince Charles Edward, 90. 

Prior of Whithorn, Clarscha of the, 149. 

"Qdken Mary" Harp, the, 56, 62, 158. 
"Queen Mary" Harp, description of the, 168-183. 
" Queen Mary " Harp, the back decorated of 

the, 179, 180. 
"Queen Mary" Harp, comparison between the 

Trinity College and the, 181. 
" Queen Mary " Harp, frequency of the symbol of 

the Cross upon the, 180. 
" Queen Mary " Harp, representation on the, 

" Queen Mary " and the Lament Harp, brought 

to Edinburgh, 182. 
Quin, Patrick, 79. 
Quin's Harp, 73. 
Quinish in Mull, 149. 

Reanney, Valentine, harper, 52. 
Representations upon stone of the Highland harp, 

Ritchie, Mr. Alexander, Preface ix. 
Robertson of Lude, 181. 
Robertson, General, 182. 
Roderic, King of Wales, 10. 
Rogers, J., engraver, 116. 

Eorie DaWs Sister's Lament [Highland Air), 191. 
Rory Dall, 149, 184. 

Rosary, harp represented in the Irish, 112. 
Ross, Thomas, Esq., Preface ix. 
Ryan-Lanegan, Lieut-Colonel, Preface ix. 

Saurin, Ven. Archdeacon, 102. 

Scotland, early musical instruments in, 10, 12. 

Scott's Lamentation [Irish Air), 124. 

Seybold, a famous player on the pedal harp, 47. 

Skinner, A. B. , Esq., Preface ix. 

Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, the Council of 

the. Preface ix. 
Somerville, Daniel, drawings of the Highland 

harps made by, 182. 
South Kensington, harp at, 102, HI. 
St. Kevin, the Harp of, 27 n. 
St. Moedoc, the shrine of, 86, 157. 



St. Moedoc, representation of a harp upon tbe 

shrine of, 24. 
St. Oran's Chapel, lona, harp upon slab at, 155. 
St. Patrick's Tooth, shrine of, 24. 
Stanyhurst, Kiehard, testimony on harp-playing 

by, 20. 
Stewart of Dalguise, John, the " Queen Mary "and 

the Lamont Harp deposited id National Museum 

of Antiquities by, 158. 
Strickland, W. G., Esq., Preface ix. 
Stuart, G. A., Esq., Preface ix. 
Summir is coming, The (Irish Air), 127. 

Tambour, the, 10. 

Tara, the arrangement of guests at the banquets 
at, 3. 

Tara, triennial meeting at, 3. 

Terror of Death, The (Highland Air), 189. 

Thomas, T. H., Esq., Preface ix. 

Thumouth, Burk, 184. 

" Timpan," meaning of, 3 n. 

Trinity College Harp, the, 55. 

Wales, early musical instruments, in, 10, 12. 
Weddirspune, James, 141. 
Wilde, Sir William, 82. 
Willow-wood, early harps made of, 2. 
Wren, The (Irish Air), 130. 

Tellow Blanket, The (Irish Air), 128. 
Yellow-Haired Laddie (Hhjldand Air), 188. 
Young Man' a Dream, Tlie (Irish Air), 125. 

Printed by T. and A. Constable, Printers to His Majesty 
at the Edinburgh University Press 


P. 7, 14th line, /or (1581) read (1581)5. 

P. 52, Note 5, for Cevil read Cecil. 

P. 83, 7 th line, for unquestionably read quite possibly. 

P. 86, 10th line, /or evidently read perhaps. 

P. 100, 8th line from bottom, /or believed read supposed. 


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